In the past 10 years I've been growing, or trying to grow, veggies I've never tried before. Coming from the Eastcoast, I've seen exotic and unusual veggies offered in the stores, but I never tried growing them. Now that I'm on the path of self reliance, I'm giving those odd ducks a go.
Years ago I'd come home with a chayote, a daikon, or a pink striped eggplant and try making something edible out of them. That was before one could google up a good recipe, so I'd have to search the library for an appropriate cookbook....or simply wing in at home. Not knowing that what I had purchased was poor quality (chayotes too mature, daikons old and limp, etc.) combined with my lack of a good recipe, most of my tries were failures. We never liked the stuff.
Today things are different. The web offers all sorts of info on new veggies to try. Growing advice. Recipes. Personal experiences with the items. Plus I've become a pretty good gardener so that I can now grow it myself.....sometimes.
So what good steps do I take?
...seeds. The various seed companies often sell some of the not-so-common and things I've never tried before. Local seed exchanges are another good source for me to explore. While some exotic stuff might not be offered that day, if I strike up conversations with the other seed exchange participants I can offer find sources of new veggies for my gardens. I once posted a request on Craigslist and got new taro varieties that I found other local folks were growing.
...growing info. Google searches can help track down lots of info both from other gardeners but better, from lots of ag extension services and universities. I still collect gardening books and refer to them when trying new vegs. Local gardeners are often a wonderful source of how-to. The problem is finding them, but a note asking for help and posted on local bulletin boards helps. I've talked with such local gardeners via the phone or over lunch at the local sandwich shop. I once posted a request on Craigslist and got numerous responses. It's the old "ask and you shall receive" concept. No one is going to kidnap me and teach me to grow pipinolas during my abduction! I have to be the one to initiate the quest to learn about unfamiliar crops.
That brings me to the main reason people tell me why try don't try growing new things.....they don't know how. That won't stop me! I'll go around searching and asking.
...recipes. These easiest thing nowadays is a google search. Lots of recipes out there on the Internet. But another source is local food festivals. Back in NJ there were dandelion, strawberry, muskrat, blueberry festivals. Here in Hawaii I've been to lilokoi, mango, avocado, breadfruit, and taro festivals. Wonderful sources of info! Strike up a conversation or two and I take home all sorts of new knowledge.
Boldly going......that's the point. I have to be bold enough to give something new a chance in the face of failure. Bold enough to ask questions and seek out information. And finally and most importantly, bold enough to place the stuff on a dish in front of hubby! He's not one to try new foods. One look at something odd and freaky colored on his plate and he thinks --toxic waste! But over the years I've gotten him to try many a new food, some of which he now willingly eats without too much whimpering.