As I (Ricky Shipard) was growing up I was constantly amazed at the verity of unique plants we had on the farm.
Isabell (my mum) would research exotic herbs and plants from all over the world and then import them or the seeds to grow and propagate.
I was once photographed by the local newspaper holding a long bean that was as long as I was. Long beans can grow up to 2m in length. Mum use to add them to stir fries and stews but my favourite way of having them was just cut in to slices and fried along side sausages or with a slice of cheese melted on top. Long beans that are left to fully mature on the vine can then be picked, dried out slowly and like a gourd with a hard shell can be used for craft, instruments or or other creative uses.
Some other remarkable plants were the Wax Gourd or Giant Tropical Cucumber which also grew to an unbelievable size. You can grate young gourds into a tossed salad, or mix like cucumbers with a creamy salad dressing. Try slices steamed, fried, roasted, barbecued, pickled or added to stews, soups, pickles, sauces, jams, curries or stir-fries.
The African Cucumber which looked like a thorny devil but is juicy and delicious to eat and great in salads like an apple cucumber. It was always an adventure going into the orchard to hunt for these cucumbers.
Another exotic fruit that I absolutely loved – that looked like it came right out of Game of Thrones – was the Dragon Fruit. I thought it looked really cool like a dragon egg but it was also sweet and delicious. The flesh is used in fruit salads, set in jellies, mixed with milk, added to fruit juices, sherbets, frozen into iced delicacies and made into jams. Use the fruit to create spectacular centre pieces on a dinner table.
My favourite fruit growing up though was the Pepino. I use to go into the garden and pick them and then eat them like apples, skin, seeds and all. When they are left to ripen on the plant they are juicy, sweet and delicious.
Many of these plants and others are still available in plant and/or seed form from Shipards Herb Farm.
Leave a comment below about what your favourite fruit was growing up.
If you are interested in knowing more about these plants and how to grow and use them then check out Isabells books and DVDs.
wishing you health and well-being