Thousands and thousands of potato varieties exist, and we know only a few...They can have incredible forms , shapes and colours. I will not place a ‘how to grow’ here, lots can be found in books or on the internet. 

Some varieties are resistent to late blight (phytophtora infestans), we call this ‘aardappelplaag’, that can destroy a whole harvest in just a few rainy days.  Try to get these: sarpo mira, sarpo axona, they’re exceptionally resistant.

Lots of edible wild forms of potato (solanum tuberosum) exist, and some are commonly grown in the Andean highlands, such as papa criolla (solanum phureja) or papa del monte (solanum demissum) and many others. 

And... potato flowers can be very pretty


There are in fact two major types of purslane: the winter purslane (Montia perfoliata) is an rapidly growing low staying plant, with an amazing cold resistance.  A very nutricious plant during wintertime, but take care, it can resow abundantly.

The other purslane (portulaca oleraceae) is a summer grown , also low-staying plant, who produces very quickly a good crop of thick fleshy leaves, used mainly in soups.  It also resows easily but has a bit less weedy habit compared to winter purslane.  The summer purslane is frost-tender.


An easy to grow relative of yacon but not really edible, the roots are used medicinal . The roots and plants need to be survived in one piece and frost-free during winter.  They can easily reach 2 metres or more, and are a very spectacular sight.


There’s lots of confusion between quilquina and papalo (see papalo), quilquina is the form with the longer leaves, and comes from Bolivia and other Latin-American countries.  Quilquina (Porophyllum ruderale subsp. ruderale) is used wherever papalo is used, as some sort of coriander.  It is easier to grow compared to papalo, requiring a bit less heat , they reach up to 1,5 metres and set seed easily, although weather needs to be good and warm to get viable seed.


Quinoa is one of the ‘wonder grains’ of Latin America.  It was the main grain and food during the Inca empire (and probably before) and disappeared a bit when the Spanish empire introduced wheat and other European grains.  Fortunately, lots of varieties survived, and quinoa is getting known over here as well.

Quinoa grows fine over here, sow in warm ground, the plants grow quickly , some varieties grow quite high, up to 1,5 metres and threaten to fall over when they are loaded with grains, especially in windy conditions.  Do try and grow a variety suited for our climate, very important is the ability to stand autumn rain.  Harvesting is quite easy, hang the plants upside down in a dry spot and tresh the grains when they have dried completely.  The grains still retain toxic residues, that can be washed away by rinsing, but I must say here my home-grown grains remained bitter -tasting.


If you want to start your first vegetable garden, this is one of the ‘classics ‘.  Everybody knows the mostly red, but also white or even green (rare) and other colours , a bit sharp tasting, pointy radishes (raphanus ativus).  But there are also other radish forms and uses, winter radishes are an old group used during wintertime in hot dishes , and also known for the preparation of some sort of sirop against coughs.  There are oriental radishes, including the amazing daikon, with lengths up to 80 cms! Most of these winter radishes, and the oriental as well, are best sown in late summer, otherwise they will bolt quickly and won’t produce a bulb. Some are very cold hardy and can be left in the ground during winter. Another special variety of radish is the edible-podded variety, indeed, the pods are eaten and they taste like radish...These can be sown early in the year, after flowering the pods form and can be picked easily.


Again a member of the campanula family, rampion (campanula rapunculus) was eaten ages ago , it seems to have been quite popular once.  The plants produce an edible root, about the size and taste of radishes.  As with lots of campanulas , leaves can be eaten raw or cooked.  Thicker roots can be used in hot dishes.