Mini-vegetables in the garden and windowsill - is it worth it to grow?
Today mini-vegetables are quite popular not only as finished products of vegetable departments of hypermarkets. Many gardeners also drew attention to the original kids and are trying to grow new products on personal plots. Carrots and corn are not bigger than the little finger, eggplant is the size of a tennis ball, tomatoes are the size of a currant ... What kind of “baby vegetables” should be planted in the garden or on the windowsill, and are there any advantages in the tiny sizes of vegetables? Let's try to understand the article.
Benefits of Mini Vegetables
Vegetable “baby boom” is a relatively young phenomenon. It all started a few years ago in Japan and, as often happens, by accident. Once, marketers noticed that packaged vegetables cut into slices are bought much more actively than similar products of a traditional kind. But, as you know, chopped vegetables and fruits are not able to maintain their presentation for a long time, they also quickly lose some of the nutrients. Then it was decided to place an order for breeders to breed portioned vegetables, and the businessmen’s calculations were justified.
Often mini-vegetables have not only reduced fruit sizes, but also small dwarf bushes, which makes them convenient for growing in containers on balconies or even windows of city apartments. In addition, certain varieties of “baby vegetables” turn out to be much tastier than their full-sized relatives.
Dwarf vegetables are a great way to diversify the children's menu and create funny and healthy dishes as if for little men from "Adventures of Dunno." With whole-fruit preservation, mixes of multi-colored “crumbs” will look much more original than traditional pickles.
Mini-vegetables are indispensable during table setting when decorating vegetable and meat dishes, cooking canapes, they are convenient for grilling. But the most important advantage of baby vegetables is the preservation of more vitamins and valuable elements during cooking, since they do not need to be cut into pieces due to the miniature size of the fruit. By the way, the cooking time is also reduced as a result.
Moreover, according to some reports, mini-vegetables initially contain one and a half to two times more nutrients than standard-sized fruits.
Next, we consider in more detail the most popular mini-vegetables that are easy to grow on beds or in containers.
Cherry tomatoes are mini-tomatoes, but this variety of tomatoes has become so firmly entrenched in our reality that for a long time it does not seem something exotic. Therefore, a mini tomato usually means something really tiny, and such "nano" varieties exist.
If in most vegetables the miniature form is the result of complex hybridization, then in the tomato it, on the contrary, is a return to the forgotten roots. In particular, it has now become possible to purchase the seeds of the progenitor of modern cultivated tomatoes - currant tomato. The size of the relic tomato fruit does not exceed the size of the berries of medium black currant, but the brushes on the bush usually tie a lot even in the most “not tomato year”.
Of course, collecting such a crop is much more difficult than picking large tomatoes, but still in such toy tomatoes there is a special charm. Mini-tomatoes serve as an original decoration of the festive table, surprise guests and children really like.
In addition, wild culture has many advantages over pampered varietal tomatoes. Currant leafy tomato will require minimal care and grows well on almost any soil, steadily transferring the negative environmental conditions (damp, drought). Almost not affected by the scourge of all tomatoes - late blight.
Elegant bushes with small carved foliage, strewn with plentiful small fruits, like a garland, will become a wonderful decoration of the garden. The plant can not be stepson and then its height does not exceed one meter. Fruits tomato currant to frost. And due to the fact that the berries do not crumble, you can not rush to harvest.
An even more original kind of wild tomato is Tomato "Gold Rush", which differs from currant tomato only in the yellow color of the fruit and will look great paired with red-fruited.
“Toy” ears of pickled mini-corn are very often found in supermarkets among jars of overseas pickles. Why not try to grow original corncobs on your own?
The most common variety of unusual vegetables is Minigold. The miniature variety is suitable even for regions with a short summer, as tiny cobs are usually harvested in a slightly immature form. They are ready for harvesting already in 12-17 weeks after sowing seeds in the ground.
Miniature cobs are very tender and pleasant to taste, so they can be consumed whole even in raw form, which avoids the process of lengthy cooking required by ordinary corn. But most often, small fruits are used for marinating, freezing and grilling, they are used as part of vegetable stews, kapape or added to soup.
The agricultural technology of mini corn is no different from the cultivation of its full-sized relative. Sowing seeds is carried out immediately to a permanent place in the middle-end of May.
Despite the fact that the ears of dwarf corn do not exceed 10-12 centimeters in length and 2-3 cm in diameter, the stalks of the Minigold variety are of a standard height of more than 1.5 meters, therefore, enough space is needed to grow it. The location should be sunny, and the soil - quite fertile. The culture does not require special care.
Traditional eggplants have a weight of 300-400 grams and a classic dark purple skin color. But the fruits of mini-eggplant differ not only in smaller size, but also in the rich color of the fruits.
For example, eggplant The Mantle of the King or Tiger cub. Its original fruitlets stand out in unusual colors - brown stripes on an orange background. The variety is additionally attracted by the simultaneous presence of flowering inflorescences, unripe ovaries and fully ripened fruits on the bush.
An unusual elegant variety is successfully used in cooking, however, for this purpose, it is recommended to pluck unripe yellowish eggplants, since fully ripened seeds become hard.
Eggplant "Turkish Orange" also characterized by the presence of unusual stripes, but in shape its rounded fruits are more reminiscent of red-orange tomatoes. The average weight of the fruit is 100 grams. This variety is also better to eat unripe, its flesh is sweeter and more tender and slightly resembles a tomato.
Both varieties can be grown in containers, but these are quite large bushes that require a lot of space. And here mini-eggplant "Ophelia" can be called a truly balcony variety, as it has not only small fruits, but also compact low bushes 30-40 centimeters high. The fruits of this hybrid have a dark purple color and a classic shape.
Looks no less original and mini eggplant "Bambi F1". Rounded pure white fruits of this variety are tied even in low light. The size of the fruit is 5 cm, and the average weight is 50-70 grams. Varieties and hybrids of mini-eggplants are recommended for container gardening; they can be grown on balconies, window sills, in winter gardens and greenhouses.
Note: most miniature eggplants are eaten along with their large counterparts. The only exception is the variety "Chinese lantern" with original ribbed fruits, which, unfortunately, are completely inedible.
In their homeland, hot peppers are real trees 3-4 meters high, but when breeding cultivated varieties, breeders sought to obtain undersized compact bushes. Currently, there are a huge number of varieties and hybrids of dwarf peppers, which are often referred to as decorative, but nothing prevents the use of small pods in cooking.
Hybrid can be called one of the most impressive varieties of dwarf hot peppers. Explosive Ember. In a well-lit place, its foliage acquires a very beautiful purple hue, and the cone-shaped fruits constantly change color as they approach biological maturity. So on the plant you can simultaneously see the peppers of four colors: red, purple, orange and yellowish-purple. This variety is incredibly sharp and one tiny pod will be enough to add taste to a large borscht pan.
Pepper "Jellyfish"On the contrary, it belongs to the weakest-pointed varieties of dwarf hot pepper, its colorful pods can be consumed fresh, and used to decorate salads.
Read more about growing decorative hot peppers in the article Indoor hot peppers - varieties and features of growing.
Among the sweet "Bulgarian" peppers there are also dwarf varieties. The most popular variety of dwarf peppers Minibell (Mini Bell), combining the fruits of red, yellow, orange and chocolate color. Of course, these peppers are not thick enough, however, they also find culinary applications, for example, for stuffing raw with cheese filling.
In addition, these peppers look great in containers and can be grown on window sills, terraces and balconies. Other interesting varieties of sweet mini peppers: Gnome, "Topic", "Lipstick", "Sun" and so forth
For details on growing sweet pepper at room conditions, see the article Indoor sweet pepper - grow paprika on the windowsill !.
Not all varieties of this vegetable grow fruits the size of a potential carriage for Cinderella. Among the representatives of pumpkin, you can find absolutely kids. For example, charming pumpkin Baby Boo (Baby boo) has a weight of 150 to 300 grams. Ribbed snow-white fruits of this crumb are mainly used to decorate interiors, as they have an inexpressive taste.
And here is a mini pumpkin "Sweet chestnut", also not exceeding 200-300 grams, can taste to compete with the most popular large-fruited sisters. The word "chestnut" is taken out in the name of the variety not only in connection with the tiny size of the fruit. The pulp of this pumpkin is very unusual (starchy, crumbly and very sweet with a slight nutty flavor) and resembles roasted chestnuts to taste. The peel is dark green with longitudinal brown stripes, during storage the main tone turns brown.
By the way, this baby has a double - Japanese pumpkin "Naguri", which has completely identical flesh, appearance and taste, but grows slightly larger, although it also refers to portioned ones (up to 1.3 kg).
Due to the very sweet taste and starchy consistency, the main field of application for both varieties is the preparation of various desserts. In particular, due to the lack of a specific pumpkin flavor and smell, such a pumpkin will be an excellent filling for pumpkin pie. Mini-pumpkins are also suitable for making candied fruits, baking with various fillings, as well as raw as an ingredient in fruit salads.
A slightly larger size is another miniature pumpkin - Sweet Dumpling (Sweet dumpling), the fruits of which can reach 300-400 grams. “Sweet dumpling”, as the name of the variety is translated, differs in light pulp and is prepared mainly according to potato recipes. Other portioned pumpkin varieties weighing no more than a kilogram: "Acorn", "Ishiki smoke", Camo Camo and so forth
Read more about interesting pumpkin varieties in the article Amazing pumpkin varieties - both delicious and beautiful.
The most popular variety of the famous spice is basil with large purple leaves, also known as Yerevan. Green-leaf varieties of basil are also distinguished by a rather large leaf blade and high growth.
But not every gardener knows about the existence of a miniature variety of this spice with tiny bushes no more than 15-20 centimeters high. On sale, such miniature varieties can most often be found under the names: basil "Dwarf", "Greek" and "Spherical perfume".
Mini basil is characterized by dense spherical tussock bushes with fine (up to 1 centimeter) dense foliage, the bushes reach a maximum diameter of 30-35 centimeters in diameter. The bushes of the mini-basil densely branch from the base without additional pinching, and even during flowering they retain a spherical shape, because, unlike tall counterparts, its inflorescences do not rise much above the leaves.
The low growth and characteristic habit of the plant makes it an excellent contender for growing on a kitchen windowsill or balcony. From a distance, the dwarf basil is vaguely reminiscent of an ornamental shrub - boxwood, so with its participation you can make an original flower arrangement by planting spice in the company of bright annuals - petunia, snapdragon, caliberhoa, nemesia and others.
It is better to grow this basil in the seedling method, sowing seeds indoors in the early to mid-April. Shoots can be dived in small bunches. Seedlings are planted in a permanent place after the threat of return frost has passed.
Regarding the spicy smell, mini basil is not inferior to its tall counterparts in any way - its leaves exude a strong and rich aroma with mulled wine tones. Spice is widely used in various salads, sandwiches, in the aromatization of drinks, pickles, as well as meat and fish dishes.
Other mini vegetables
Separately, it should be mentioned a group of vegetables that are classified as “mini” very conditionally, because their small size is not the result of selection work, but simply fruits collected in the phase of milk ripeness. Varieties and hybrids of these vegetables are often sold under the name “mini”, based on the fact that their unripe ovaries are especially tasty in this unripe form and tend not to outgrow a little longer than other varieties.
These, in particular, include onions on a mini-head (Barleta, "Pompeii", "Early beam"), zucchini squash (Mini Zucchini, Patio Star, Soft Test), bunch carrots (Beam, "The Bureau", "Lagoon") and a gherkin mini-cucumber ("Micron", "Filippok", White Pickle Mini).