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Veg on the Edge

Veg on the Edge

Norfolk Master Gardeners experienced some ‘veg on the edge’ at Easton College, when they came together for a training event delivered by Anton Rosenfeld of Garden Organic.

Delegates were introduced to vegetables from a wide range of cultures including India, East Asia, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. It was an opportunity to discover how crops that we may define as ‘exotic’ are possible to grow in the UK and indeed flourishing on allotments in the more multi-cultural cities and regions of the country.

Take Lemongrass for example. Now quite widely used in UK kitchens as a common component of Thai and East Asian cooking. Expensive to buy in the supermarket, but it’s easy to propagate vegetatively from a fresh bunch. Once taken the plant will happily grow indoors in winter and outside in the summer.

Master Gardener, Tish, commented;

I love the thought that we are benefitting from the result of immigrants to this country bringing in their own vegetables, selecting those that grow best in this country and learning to grow them under British conditions, and perhaps giving us a head start in learning to adapt what we grow to different climatic conditions.

Many of these crops have only recently become more widely known through Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds project ( This innovative venture has greatly widened people’s access to growing non-traditional crops. A few of our favourites include roasted green chickpeas from India, Water chestnuts from China and mexican Gerkins.

Some of the highlights of learning from those who came along:

We do not always need a warmer climate to grow some unusual vegetables – some seeds do like our weather!

It’s inspiring to hear about the different allotment holders from around the world who have been growing these veg, saving seeds etc, and are now making them available to us.

The number and variety of new vegetables that will grow outside in this country, especially those we can buy from supermarkets or grocery shops and plant or propagate.

I learnt some tips on successful sweet potato growing in the UK – a hot box, horse manure and wood shavings.

For more information on Sowing New Seeds, go to their website.

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Read other case studies from Norfolk Master Gardeners.


Handling callaloo seed heads.  Callaloo is a leafy vegetable cooked in a similar way to spinach.

Sowing Haloon seeds in modules.  Haloon is an Indian version of cress.

Lemongrass, makes a fine indoor plant speciman. Lemongrass and ginger tea is a traditional Caribbean remedy for a feverish cold or flu. (rum can be added)

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