Also known as Japanese mustard and technically called Brassica japonica, this little leafy green adds a delightful zing to salads. It has a mildly mustard taste, its seeds can be ground to make mustard, and it refreshes the palate. Mizuna is simple to grow. Plant it in pots or the garden in rich, free-draining potting mix or soil and in full sun. Pick and use the young leaves because they have the best taste. Liquid feed regularly to encourage lush growth.
You may have seen this popular citrus in your local fruit-and-veg shop, but did you know it’s easy to grow your own? This beautiful eating fruit is the result of a cross between mandarin and grapefruit varieties. The large juicy fruit is as easy to peel as a mandarin and has a refreshingly sharp taste. Grow tangelos in a sunny spot in good-quality free-draining soil. Tangelos also need a frost-free location with a long hot growing season.
This hybrid citrus is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin and takes the best attributes from both. The fruit is low in acid, so you can eat it straight from the tree, squeeze its juice into water for a refreshing drink or add a little of its wonderfully fragrant rind to a meal to give it a sweet zing. Only pick the fruit when you need it because it won’t ripen once off the tree. Grow lemonade trees as you would most citrus. They prefer a sunny location with good-quality free-draining soil in a spot that’s protected from strong wind and heavy frost.
With its wrinkly appearance and masses of thorns it’s easy to see where Cereus uruguayenis* gets its common name – monster cactus! But beneath this nasty exterior hides a sweet secret. It’s also known as the apple cactus and its white-pink flowers grow into flavoursome smooth-skinned fruit, ready for picking in late winter. Because it’s a succulent it grows well in a warm sunny position with free-draining soil and needs little maintenance.
- The correct botanic name for the species cultivated for its fruit is somewhat muddled. It may be sold as Cereus uruguayenis, C. peruvianus, C. hildmannianus or C. repandus! Check the one you buy is the edible variety.
Succulents are today’s ‘it’ plants, from ornamental agaves to the fancy small forms. What’s surprising is many of these often fearsome-looking beasts have a practical side: tequila from agave, fruit from cereus and soothing sap from aloe.
Did you know?
The alcoholic spirit tequila is distilled from a cactus, or more accurately, from a succulent known as the blue agave. In Mexico, it’s actually the only variety of succulent from which tequila can legally be commercially made. The heart of the plant, which can weigh as much as 70 kilograms, is harvested when the agave is about 8-10 years old. The heart is then steamed, crushed and fermented to produce the potent spirit. Some tequila varieties include a
pickled worm in the bottle. These grubs feed on the plants and are supposedly a symbol of the authenticity and potency of the bottle’s contents!