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Unusual Crops to Add to Your Home Garden

Every once in awhile I mention a crop that I’m growing to a friend and receive the reply, “I didn’t know we could grow that.” Beyond the typical tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes there are a number of unusual crops that grow well in most areas. While I love all the old favorites, every once in awhile it’s fun to try something new.

Are you feeling adventurous? Consider these crops:
  • Peanuts- Peanuts are truly a “plant it and leave it” crop. Their thick foliage chokes out weeds while shading the soil to retain water. They are essentially a living mulch. Since the pods grow under the ground, harvest time comes with a surprise. How many peanuts will you get? The anticipation is half the fun. Plant peanuts in loose, well drained soil about 18” apart to provide plenty of room for them to spread. 
  • Artichokes- Their large, purple flowers are a lovely addition to the garden. Slugs and aphids are the biggest enemy of the artichoke, but are quite easy to manage organically making the artichoke a low maintenance crop. In Northwest Arkansas, artichokes are a perennial- returning each year- when properly protected over the winter. 
  • Figs- Most famous for their contribution to the Fig Newton, figs are under-valued in the kitchen and in the backyard garden. Have you ever seen a fig plant? It’s stunning. Stunning! Even if you have only an ornamental flower bed, you have a spot for figs. They are quite large, so you might consider growing them in place of large ornamental bushes. In NWA, we have a growing season that is just long enough to mature, so plant your fig as early as possible and make sure they are in full sun. The addition of paramagnetic rock to your soil may help the fruits mature faster.

I encourage you to grow one of these unusual crops in your home garden. It's always good to get a little outside of your comfort zone, even in the garden. Whether the crop succeeds or not, you’ve learned something!

Are you planning to grow a new and interesting crop this year?



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