At this time of year, gardeners are ordering their seeds and planning their gardens in anticipation for the growing season. As you start to plan your garden, you might want to consider mixing it up and trying something that you haven’t grown before.
Here are 8 unconventional crops that are possible (though perhaps challenging) to grow in Maine that you should consider trying this growing season.
The plant used for most types of tea, Camellia sinensis, is primarily grown abroad and prefers mild climates with ample rainfall and well-drained, acidic soil. You can attempt to grow Camellia sinensis in Maine if you are up for the challenge, or you can opt to grow one of the many herbs that make delicious herbal teas and thrive in Maine’s environment. Here’s what you need to know about growing your own tea in Maine.
Hops are the green, pinecone-shaped flowers of the hop plant that are used to flavor and stabilize beer. Hops can be challenging to grow, but it is possible to do so in Maine. Plus, if you are successful, you can brew your own homegrown hoppy beers.
No, not the plastic puffs — the natural sponges that inspired them. Luffa sponges actually come from two species of gourd: Luffa acutangula, the angled luffa, and L. cyclindrica, the smooth luffa. It is possible — though somewhat difficult — to grow these natural sponges in Maine, if you are willing to put in the effort and want a more sustainable, natural beauty routine.
Maybe you have grown squash to use in the kitchen, but have you ever had the chance to grow your own jack-o-lanterns? Think towards fall and try growing your own carving pumpkins this year.
Growing edible flowers is a great way to make your salads, baked goods and other treats a little fancier. Plus, many edible flowers will attract pollinators to your garden and help your other favorite crops to flourish.
Ok, it’s not a crop you would put in your garden, per se, but growing mushrooms at home is easy and economical. You can even grow mushrooms in a coffee can. Once you get started, you can also learn how to prepare all the different types of interesting locally-cultivated mushrooms in Maine.
Throughout New England, growers have hopped onto the world’s most expensive spice, saffron. Believe it or not, you can reach out to these networks to get some crocuses for yourself and grow your own saffron in your home garden.
Fragrant lavender has been an increasingly popular crop in Maine. Lavender is a beautiful flower to grow, especially if you like to craft with the relaxing fragrance. Here are the basics of growing lavender from seed.
Changing up what you grow is one of the ways to keep gardening interesting every year. Get a little creative this year in the garden — you never know what spring might bring.