4 ideas for exotic fruits and vegetables in your garden
Are you after a bit more variety in your garden? Do you want to harvest unusual fruits and vegetables? We've thought of four exotic fruits that you can plant yourself. From tiny cucumbers that look like little watermelons to miniature limes that contain caviar-like pearls: let us inspire you!
Tomatillos have a sweet and acidic flavour and are an essential ingredient when making Latin American recipes such as salsa verde. Depending on the variety, they can be green, yellow or purple. The growing conditions are similar to tomatoes – so they are easy to cultivate in European gardens.
To start with, grow the seeds indoors in small plant pots filled with potting compost, ideally in a room that's between 20 and 27 degrees Celsius. As soon as the plants have grown five centimetres tall, move the pots outside to a sunny part of your garden that's sheltered from the wind. It's best to wait until 11th to 15th May before planting them outside, as there shouldn't be any more frost after this time. Harden off your tomatillo plants by leaving them outside in their pots for a couple of days in a row before putting them in a plant bed. You can harvest them after around two and a half months.
A finger lime, which is a type of citrus fruit, isn't anything special when you look at it from the outside. But inside, its juicy pearls that look like caviar are a visual highlight and a taste sensation, ranging from refreshingly tart to mild. Depending on the variety, finger lime pearls can be pink or green – which makes them the perfect garnish for salads or desserts.
Growing citrus fruits in countries with cooler climates is not that straightforward. But with the right care and attention, you can grow this exotic fruit in your own garden too. However, it isn't a hardy, perennial plant, so it will need to be sheltered somewhere that's brightly lit at a temperature of at least 15 degrees Celsius during the winter. When it's planted outside, it will need to be kept in a sunny area or in partial shade and should receive as much light as possible from all sides. Water your plants so that the ground is always moist but not wet.
The Mexican cucamelon produces fruits which look like little watermelons, so they can give your balcony or garden a holiday vibe. This exotic vegetable tastes like a normal cucumber but has a slightly fruitier, sharper flavour. It's perfect to have as a snack and also makes an eye-catching addition to your salad.
Cucamelons are low-maintenance and just need to be planted in a largish patch that gets a lot of sunlight and is sheltered from the wind. Over time, the plants will grow two to three metres tall. You can use a support to ensure that the plant doesn't break as it grows. As soon as its fruits reach two to four centimetres in length, you can harvest them. You can also pickle them so you can enjoy them all year long.
Do you want to plant exotic fruits? Then the Japanese plum plant could be the perfect addition to your garden. As a potted plant, it grows relatively easily on a sunny patch sheltered from the wind. If you keep it in a pot, you can easily bring it indoors in the winter. It can survive the winter if it's kept at around 10 degrees Celsius.
The exotic fruits of the Japanese plum plant are known as loquats and range from yellow to orange in colour, and have a thin, slightly furry skin. The pulp is juicy and tastes sweet and slightly sour, like apples, pears and plums. They become ripe in May and can be eaten raw but can also be made into jam or jelly.