Zucchinis are part of the Cucubits family and are related to the melon, pumpkin and cucumber. Most varieties of zucchini can grow up to a metre long, but some can get even longer than that.
The world record holding zucchini was a whopping 2.52 metres long - almost the length of 2 humans!
The heaviest zucchini came in at 29 kilograms.
A cold breeze is “snow” problem for a snow pea! Snow peas don’t mind cold temperatures. These plants can grow and produce peas throughout winter, making them a wonderful winter crop. They can deal with temperatures as low as 7 degrees Celsius.
These vegetables are great climbers so planting next to a wooden stake, tepee frame or ladder will allow it to climb to the top.
Snow peas and snap peas have an edible pod and pea, while the green-pea has a much harder and fibrous pod, making it difficult to chew.
Believe it or not, eggplants are fruits not vegetables! This is because they have many seeds inside their flesh, while vegetables don’t contain seeds inside themselves.
Eggplants are glossy and long - nothing like an egg at all. However, originally, eggplants were much smaller and white in colours which is how they got the name 'egg' plant.
These fruits are primarily purple (in fact, they come in a range of purples) but they can come in different colours including brown, yellow, green, and white.
Chillies are vegetables that need a lot of sunlight to grow well – maybe this is why they are so hot in flavour!
The heat levels of chillies range from super-hot to super-mild. The wonderfully named Trinidad Scorpion Chilli is measured as having 1,463,700 Scoville Heat Units (SHUs), an official laboratory unit for heat levels. This can be compared to the common green Jalapeno which is just 2500-5000 SHUs.
While you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat a lemon by itself, they do make great additions to drinks, meals and desserts. Both the juice from the lemon and the skin can be used.
Lemons contain a lot of citric acid which makes the juice very sour. Lemon juice makes an excellent cleaning product because germs can't handle the acid!
Carrots are a root crop similar to beetroot. They grow in the ground whilst their green shoots can be seen above the ground. Carrots can be eaten raw, roasted, stewed or as a juice.
Hundreds of years ago, the common carrots were not orange... Most carrots were purple with a bitter taste. People discovered that orange carrots tasted sweeter, so they started planting more orange carrots. Over time, this replaced the purple carrot. Today, we are fortunate to be able to enjoy purple, orange, yellow, white or red carrots!
Did you know… an average strawberry has around 200 seeds!
And how did the strawberry get it's name? Some believe that English children in the 19th century would pick strawberries and string them on grass straws to sell as “straws of berries.” Others think the name came from the practice of placing straw around the plants to protect them from the weather. Most people, however, believe “strawberry” came from “strewn berry” since strawberries appear to be “strewn” about on the plants where they grow.
Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable. They are thought to have originated from South Central Mexico and belong to the genus Persea in the Lauraceae family (along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel).
The name came about because Spanish explorers could not pronounce the Aztec word for avocado, “ahuacatl,” so they called the avocado “aguacate.”
You can tell that an avocado is ripe when they feel heavy for their size and are dark in color. If you want to quicken the ripening process, simply put one in brown paper bag for 2-4 days. You can speed this process up even more by putting adding a banana to the bag.
Eating foods high in monounsaturated fats (such as avocados and nuts) is linked to higher general intelligence and better brain connectivity. They also have the highest protein content of all fruit, rich in fibre and reputedly provide your skin with a more youthful glow!
The peach (Prunus persica) along with other stone fruits such as nectarines, cherries, plums and apricots are all members of the Rose (Rosaceae) family and belong to the genus Prunus.
The peach is a deciduous tree, originating from the region of northwest China, where is was first domesticated and cultivated (as far back as 8,000 years ago).
It's name persica refers to Persia (or Iran as we know it today) where it was widely cultivated and then transplanted to Europe.
There are over 2,000 varieties of peaches throughout the world today (including a dwarf variety, found in the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden).
In China today, the peach is regarded as a sign of good luck, protection and longevity!
Peaches store a broad range of nutrients that are vital for the healthy functioning of the body. Peaches are a rich provider of vitamin A, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Peaches also offer a rich treasure of minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, and copper. Peaches are low in calories, contain no saturated fat or cholesterol, and are a good source of dietary fibre.
The pistachio is a desert tree originating from Central Asia and the Middle East. Archaeological evidence shows pistachios were eaten as far back as 6750 BC. Pistachios were used by early traders and explorers because of their high nutritional value and long storage life.
The Iranians call pistachios the ‘smiling nut’ and the Chinese call them the ‘happy nut’.
Pistachios are wind pollinated – a male and female tree is needed for fruit. It can take five years before you have nuts on your trees. Once your female tree starts bearing fruit, she will produce for up to 200 years.
HERBS AND SPICES
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae) and is the spice that gives curry it’s yellow colour.
The root of the plant is used in cooking, in dye for clothing, and also as a health food.
Turmeric contains the substance curcumin, and is utilised as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant to treat colitis, muscle strain and joint and heart health.
Turmeric is also said to also contribute to improved brain function and reduce stress.
If you love lemon flavor, make room for lemon verbena in your garden. Grown in a pot, this fragrant beauty will maintain a tidy size. In the ground, it forms a luxuriously lemony shrub.
Packed with delicious citrus flavor, thinly sliced leaves add zest and aroma to fish, salads, and steamed vegetables.
Stuff a jar with lemon verbena leaves, fill it with water, and sit it in the sun to brew a refreshing tea for summer sipping. For hot tea by the cup, steep 1/2 cup of leaves in 1 cup of hot water.
Transform cookies or cakes into lemony treats by mixing bruised lemon verbena leaves into sugar the night before baking. Strain out the leaves prior to mixing recipe.
Mediterranean in origin, there are hundreds of varieties of mint, which now grow throughout the world.
Mint is used widely in Greek, Middle Eastern, North African, Indian, and Thai cuisines, where it's inclusion in savoury dishes helps offset spicy notes. Mint's cooling properties are also appreciated in hot climates, both in food and as tea. In Europe and America, mint is more often used in sweet dishes, and as a flavouring for candies and toothpaste, and other breath fresheners.
Mint is also valued medicinally for it's stomach soothing and anti-infective properties.
Importance of Bees
Insect pollinators, particularly bees, are involved in the production of 30% of the food we eat. So for every third bite you eat, thank a pollinator!
Globally, bees and other insect pollinators, are essential for food production.
Not only do we eat the seeds or the fruit that is the direct result of pollination, but with crops such as broccoli, carrots and onions, we rely on pollinators to produce the seeds from which the plants are grown.
Bees makes a whopping 1,000 trips to flowers just to fill up a teaspoon of honey!
Did you know…
• A worm has no arms, legs or eyes.
• The longest worm ever found was in South Africa and measured 22 feet long (almost 7 metres!).
• There are approximately 2,700 different kinds of earthworms.
Worm Farms are communities of worms established as a method of recycling food scraps and other organic wastes in to natural fertiliser products. Worms produce “vermicast”, a soil like material, and a juice (or worm “wee”) which are both nutrient rich. They both make ideal natural fertilisers to improve the health of plants in the garden.
Worm farms can be purchased or handmade and are ideal for kindergartens, schools, homes with small gardens or even office environments.
Aphids and Ladybirds
Aphids are sap sucking insects that cause plants to become weak and sick. However, they are also the favourite food of ladybirds. A ladybird can eat up to 5,000 aphids in their lifetime!
Avoid spraying or squashing aphids as you will more than likely kill off future ladybirds and take away their favourite meal!
Attract ladybirds to your garden by planting marigold, yarrow, sweet alyssum or chives.