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Unusual fruits anyone can grow

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The produce section of even an ordinary supermarket introduces us to increasing numbers of uncommon fruits. Have you ever tried one and then wondered if you might be able to grow it yourself?

I have. Jujubes, for instance, and Asian pears. Also -- I know that for many people this isn't unusual, but it is for me -- gooseberries.

So I was pleased to find Lee Reich's new book, "Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden" ($16.95, Timber Press). It explains how -- and why -- to grow 23 flavorful fruits.

Among the fruits included are che, Cornelian cherry, jostaberry, jujube, and medlar, as well as Asian pear, beach plum, and pawpaw.

Since I'd never heard of some of the plants, I settled in to read and learn something new. Actually, I learned plenty of new things:

Gooseberries (that quintessential English fruit) actually originated in continental Europe.

The leaves from pruning hardy kiwi vines are supposed to be good for pigs. (And the stalks, when soaked in water, leach out glue.)

In Finland, lingonberries traditionally accompany blood sausage or blood pancakes. (I had to look up what blood pancakes were. Finnguide explained, "Bottles of blood for cooking can be found from the frozen food section of the grocery shops in Finland.)

In China, children usually pick the tiny fruit of the raisin tree, because it's such a tedious job.

All of this esoteric knowledge is accompanied by everything a reader needs to know to choose the best cultivar and to grow these intriguing but uncommon fruits.

They may not be for garden, but for those looking for something different, "Uncommon Fruits" will be the passport for some new growing adventures.


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