These days most people are beginning to enjoy the benefits of growing their own food. Giving themselves access to the freshest fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as the unrivaled satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment that go along with the harvesting of your first crop.

Most people though are looking for something a little more challenging than growing a plot of potatoes or a selection of celery.

Thankfully, even though Scotland’s temperamental climate isn’t agreeable with every type of fruit and veg there are some more exotic types that can be grown here.

Peppers and Chillies

At the Tuesday Ferry Building Farmer's Market

Peppers and Chillies require a little extra work but are one of the more versatile vegetables someone can grow in Scotland and are excellent ingredients for many meals. Both are related to the tomato and require similar growing conditions.

Expertise level: Novice

Method:

More suited to indoor growing, both peppers and chillies can be grown using a greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory.

Seeds should be planted in 9 -12 inch pots of compost or in grow bags depending upon the variety, when plants grow to around to around 8 inches they can then be supported small garden canes. During the summer months, the plants can be placed outside but it will depend entirely on the weather, in Scotland it would perhaps be advisable to continue growing them indoors.

Water the plant once or twice a day (when hot), be wary of them drying out as this can stunt their growth.

Harvesting

After around 3 or 4 months, when the peppers are beginning to ripen they can be picked with scissors or a sharp knife.

Kohlrabi 

Pink Kohlrabi. Picture: Wikimedia

Pink Kohlrabi. Picture: Wikimedia

Perfect for salads or as part of a cooked meal, kholrabi is a wonderfully versatile little vegetable that’s big on flavour, related to the cabbage, it tastes a little like a fusion of cabbage, turnip and broccoli.

Expertise level: Novice

Method:

Unlike other members of the cabbage family, kholrabi doesn’t need a lot of space in any plot to grow.  It’s also quite quick to grow and is usually ready to be picked after about six to eight weeks after the seed is sown.

Best planted in loose soil, khol rabi needs regular watering and to be kept free of weeds and using some mulch can help.

Harvesting:

It’s best eaten just as it reaches slightly larger than a golf ball in size, so when it reaches around this size this is the best time to harvest it. Kholrabi can be kept refrigerated for two to three weeks but is best eaten fresh.

Tomatilloes

Tomatillo. Picture: Flickr

Tomatillo. Picture: Flickr

Mexican cooking fans rejoice! Not only can you grow chillies and peppers but you can also make the wonderful Tomatillo (pronounced to-ma-tee-yo) . This tomato like fruit comes with green or purple colouring and is encased in a thin leaf casing.

Expertise level: Intermediate

Method:

Similar to peppers, you can grow Tomatilloes much like tomatoes, so a warm, bright spot in a green house is ideal. They require regular watering and using a feed like a tomato feed can also help as the plant begins to flower.

Should you decide to move them outside in the summer, try to keep them sheltered as the stems can break quite easily in strong winds but they must be kept in direct sunlight. You may struggle to grow them outside in Scotland unless we get a particularly good summer.

Harvest:

Pick it, remove the paper casing and use just like a tomato raw in salads or chopped with coriander, chopped garlic, lime and chilli for a delicious salsa.

Oca

Oca. Picture: Wikimedia

Oca. Picture: Wikimedia

Oca tubers can be used as a refreshing alternative to potatoes, which is what they are used as in their native South America. The plant itself is quite pretty and with its small leaves and orange flowers fit well in any garden. Be wary though, the Oca takes a little more experience than most of the others on this list.

Expertise level: Experienced

Method:

Ocas are relatively hardy and don’t suffer too badly from blight or other diseases, when planting them they are best placed individually in small pots of compost in Spring, again it’s probably best to use a green house to get the optimum result.

Harvest: 

Ocas are harvested similar to potatoes but they tend to take a little longer to be ready for harvesting and it will usually be well into winter before you can pick them.

Ocas taste like potatoes but with a pleasant lemony tang. Once harvested they should be cleaned well and then cooked like potatoes, though without peeling.

Celeriac

Celeriac. Picture: Wikimedia

Celeriac. Picture: Wikimedia

Celeriac is of the same family as celery, though it is more hardier and many people prefer the flavour. The root is also quite light in terms of calories so is perfect for those looking for a lighter vegetable to enjoy.

Expertise level: Intermediate

Method: 

Keep the young plants in doors to begin with and then plant outside when they are well established, plant them in rows approximately a foot apart.

Celeriac is a moisture-loving plant so keep the soil constantly moist – it should never be allowed to dry out.  Clear away any emerging weeds regularly and remove any side shoots that appear. Mulch can be of great effect and really help the plant grow. The plant may need to be covered to keep the plant free from frost and cold.

Harvest:

The roots can be grated and added to salads, or chopped and fried as chips. In fact, they can be cooked in any way that potatoes and parsnips. The leaves can also be used in salad.

 

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