I've been such a huge fan of Niki Jabbour ever since I first laid eyes on her gorgeous raised garden beds. I remember coming across Niki's Instagram account and thinking to myself, this gardener isn't afraid to try something new. The admiration was instant. From social media I was brought to her website - NikiJabbour.com. That's when I found out she wasn't just an amazing photographer and top notch gardener. She is also an award-winning author!
Before we continue, make sure you scroll to the bottom of this post to enter a great giveaway!
As soon as I was able to get my hands on Niki's previous book, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, it gave me the confidence I needed to try new things. I'm a Northern gardener who lives in New England, zone 6a Massachusetts to be exact. Our growing season is so short. I've been asked why I even bother gardening when we only have a few months out of the year to grow. It's too bad some think like that, but there are so many different ways to grow a garden.
Niki taught me that you can grow in cold frames and hoop tunnels using simple techniques and succession planting. After reading her book, I decided to embark on my first raised bed garden hoop tunnel that year. It was a great success, very inexpensive and a really educational experience.
About The Book
When I found out she was coming out with a new book, I couldn't wait to dive right into it. Veggie Garden Remix: 224 New Plants to Shake Up Your Garden and Add Variety, Flavor, and Fun is out now. I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Niki to give one of you lucky readers a copy of her book!
If you are looking to find exciting and unique vegetables for your garden, this book is definitely for you! I've always had a deep love for cucamelons a.k.a. Mexican sour gherkins. I think it has something to do with the fact that my ducks go absolutely nuts for these super small veggies! After reading this book, I now have so many different varieties I'm looking forward to trying.
Inside the book, you are introduced to more than 200 curious varieties of veggies! She will help you transition smoothly from heirloom classics to the more unique choices. In the picture below, she explains visually how if you like to grow broccoli, you should try growing 'Piracicaba', 'Spigariello Liscia' or Romanesco. I was pumped when I saw this. A week before I received the book, I ordered some Romanesco seeds! Now, I'm really ready to try planting them.
Mix It Up!
After reading through this book, I'm now looking forward to trying so many different edibles. Here are my top three unconventional veggies I will be adding to my garden this year.
- Ground Cherries (Husk cherry) - Niki says that the flavor of a ripe ground cherry is comparable to pineapple with hints of cherry tomato and vanilla. They take 70 days from transplant to mature. This fun variety is from North America. She recommends giving 'Aunt Molly's' or 'Cossack Pineapple' a try. When I was attended the veggie trials last summer, I was able to taste the 'Aunt Molly's' variety at Seeds By Design by Terra Organics in Maxwell, California. They are absolutely delicious!
- Snake Gourds (Serpent gourd) - I learned that this veggie has exotic-looking, creamy white flowers that don't unfurl until the sun sets. That instantly pulled me in. I LOVE moon flowers. Anything that only blooms in the morning/night is so mysterious and exciting to me! Like the moon flowers I know and love, they are pollinated by moths. They take around 70-80 days to mature and originate from Asia. Niki recommends trying the 'Buag Ngu' or the "Snaky' varieties. You can cook them like zucchini or pickle them!
- Egyptian Walking Onions (Tree onion) - Niki explains that this veggie is a cross between bulbing onions and bunching onions. They are popular among permaculturists who use them in forest gardens because of their tendencies to roam. This exotic variety hails from Asia. They are low-maintenance hardy perennial plants (zones 5-9) that yield tender green onions for much of the year.
Those are only three of the 200 varieties Niki introduces you to in the book! You will gain a wealth of knowledge from this veggie guide. It will fill you with imagination and reinvigorate you if you find yourself in a gardening rut.
About The Author
Along with being an accomplished author who has three books under her belt, Niki also writes for magazines across North America. These include Fine Gardening, Birds & Blooms, Horticulture and Garden Making. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she is the host and Executive Producer of The Weekend Gardener with Niki Jabbour. She is a founding member of the award-winning website SavvyGardening.com. I love her latest articles: How To Grow Ground Cherries in a Garden and Growing a Salad Garden. Niki is currently growing dozens of different vegetable varieties in her 2,000-square-foot garden. She speaks widely on food gardening at events and shows across North America. You can find her appearing at Canada Blooms in Toronto, the Boston Flower Show and more. Make sure you follow her on social media. Her passion is contagious and watching her growing journey will keep you motivated!
How To Enter: Leave a comment on this post & you will automatically be entered to win. It's as easy as that!
Question: What unique varieties are you excited to grow this year?
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About The Giveaway: One lucky winner will receive the new book, Veggie Garden Remix by Niki Jabbour. This giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. EST on February 26, 2018. A winner will be picked at random and notified by email. Wishing you good luck!