One of the most ancient old-world vegetables, the garden pea can be traced to the Bronze Age. It was domesticated in Europe and later in southern Russia, Armenia, northern India, Pakistan and the mountains of Ethiopia. Primitive peas were found in the city of Troy. This vegetable reached China early in the Tang Dynasty, 600 to 900 BCE.
The ‘common bean’ Phaseolus vulgaris – phaseolus being Greek for bean and vulgaris Greek for common – covers both green beans (French beans) and dried beans such as pinto, navy, kidney and borlotti.
Anethum graveolens var. esculentum. Anethon is the Greek word for dill. Graveolens means strong smelling and esculentum means edible in Latin.
BOTANICAL NAME: Eruca sativa. Eruca is the old Latin name for rocket and sativa means cultivated.
Basil flowers are coloured white through to purple. They have an abundant and pungent nectar, and rely on insect pollination, so one basil will cross with others. You will need to separate different varieties by as much garden space as possible (preferably fifty metres).
Onion is a hardy biennial from the southern parts of Russia and Iran. It was disseminated by the Indo-European hordes in their numerous migrations. Very ancient forms of onions are still for sale in Middle Eastern markets. Onions were considered sacred and were eaten in copious quantities by the Egyptians who honoured them in some of their monuments.
There are at least two main types of fennel. There is a huge difference between the pungent, roadside weedy fennel and the much-loved, sweet garden Florence fennel, which is also called Finocchio, and has large, swollen stem bases.
Cucurbita maxima. This translates from Latin to largest (maxima) gourd (cucurbita).
Sprouting broccoli grows well in summer in southern Australia and in winter in warmer areas of Australia. It has two growth habits; one with a central head, and one that produces numerous small flower heads along the stalk (e.g. the sprouting Calabrese).
You can utilise all of this plant in your kitchen and garden. Add the flowers and young leaves to salads. You can use the green seeds (harvested after the petals have fallen) as a substitute for capers – to do this, simply pour freshly boiled vinegar into a tightly packed jar of unripe nasturtium seeds, seal the jar and store in a cool place.