Coastal and Tropical South
Growing Chinese Vegetables
Too many people think that broccoli is a Chinese vegetable, since it's included in too many take-out dishes in place of its more savory relatives. True Chinese broccoli (Jie Lan, Gai Lan), like its kin, won't grow in the summer in our regions, but plenty of other Chinese vegetables will. Geri Harrington's new book, Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard, will take you to luffa and pak choy, but also to edamame, snow peas, and ginger in garden beds and containers. A smart and charming book from Storey Publishing (March, 2009, 232 pages, $16.95), this one will expand your garden's horizons, and your stir fry.
Favorite or New Plant
One of our favorite plant families for its assortment of elephant ears, most gardeners in our region know some colocasias. But most are huge and delightful for their coarse texture, unlike this one. 'Teacup' has the sweet habit of a few plants -- it holds water in its leaf like you would in the palm of your hand. About 3 feet tall, Teacup is hardy in the tropics, likely root-hardy on the southern coasts. Try it on the porch or patio as a focal point in your container garden.