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Unusual autumn vegetables

Ever get the urge to try something new but have no idea what?  Have a look at some of these more unusual things that you can pop into your garden in the cooler months. 
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Ever get the urge to try something new but have no idea what?  Have a look at some of these more unusual things that you can pop into your garden in the cooler months. If your interest is piqued, you'll find an amazing amount of detailed information on Google, including lots of different ways to cook these vegetables and how to make the most of their medicinal properties.


This beet is an old Italian Heirloom variety and is, therefore, sometimes referred to as Italian Silver Rib. It is a silver beet/chard that has wide stems that are white with dark green crinkled leaves. The plant has excellent flavour and is easy to keep crisp when cooking due to the wide stem. Plants can handle a wide range of weather conditions and are ready to pick 55 days from direct sowing.


beet argentata

Collards are large dark green loose-leaf plants in the same family as cabbage and broccoli, very similar to kale. It is believed to be a descendant of wild cabbage from 2000 years ago in Europe which was loose leafed and didn’t form a head.

Collard is a part of the staple diet of South American, East African, Southern Europe and Southern Asian cooking. Sow and cook Collards as you would kale from late summer through to spring and they will be ready to use 80 days from transplanting.

Recent studies have shown cooked Collard greens help to lower cholesterol and support digestive systems due to it triggering anti-inflammatory activity. The high fibre content (approx 7 grams per cup) and minerals help to protect the health of the stomach lining, preventing an overgrowth of bacteria. This makes it a good choice for anyone suffering inflammatory bowel disease such as irritable bowel or Crohn's disease or cardiovascular problems.



Since the 16th century, generations of gardeners in northern Italy have grown Romanesco Broccoli. It is also referred to as Broccolo Romanesco, Roman Cauliflower or Romanesque Cauliflower. As I am a big fan of cauliflower I love this vegetable. It has the texture and crunch of cauliflower but the taste of regular Broccoli, forming highly decorative light green clusters of heads that come to a conical point.

Occasionally I have seen this vegetable being sold in farmers markets and it is worth buying to try before you decide whether to grow it. If you do grow it ensure you pick before spears flower. Cool weather suits this variety as heads develop so an early spring or autumn planting is recommended. It takes approx 75 days to mature from direct sowing.



European winter Radishes are not as well known as the summer varieties but we find this radish is of interest to our customers. The black skinned radish grows to 10cm in diameter and while the tough black skin is somewhat bitter, the inner flesh is white, crisp and mild in flavour when compared to the summer radishes. To achieve a really mild tasting radish, peel the skin off and just use the creamy-white flesh.

These radishes date back to medieval European times when they were grown because of their hardiness, making them available in the garden when not much else was. They like to be directly sown, mature in 60 days and survive frosts when mature.

Create a healthy blast of black radish by juicing them. The juice helps the liver to produce fats and proteins to deal with bile and assist the digestive system to work well.

black spanish radish

Burdock is grown for the highly nutritious root with a sweet, mildly pungent flavour. The roots can grow to 1m long in well dug soil and being a root vegetable can taste a little earthy but this can be reduced by soaking for 5-10 minutes before use. Immature flower stalks can also be eaten in early spring with a taste similar to artichoke. The plants mature in 120 days from transplant and are easy to grow. Little maintenance is required once this biennial is established, except to confine it to the area you want it to grow in.
The plant also has very spiky burred flower heads that tend to attach themselves to your clothes or animal fur. It was a Swiss inventor, George de Mestral who became very interested in the structure of the burdock flowers that had attached themselves to his clothes and his dog's coat while out walking. His scrutiny under a microscope of the way this flower attached itself lead him to invent the hook and loop fastener in the 1940’s, now known commonly as velcro.
Burdock is used mostly in Asian cuisine but increased in popularity when the Macrobiotic diet advocated the use of this root vegetable due to the high fibre content. It was also used as the bittering agent in beer until the use of hops was adopted for this purpose.

The benefits of burdock are well known for herbal medicines to purify blood, as a natural diuretic, to boost the digestive system and the seeds are used in Chinese medicine for coughs and colds.  It is also used for scalp and skin problems.



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