Opportunities for market diversification and increased farm resilience with unusual and exotic vegetables and edible flower production in Wales.

The growing of micro salads, unusual vegetables and edible flowers has been a sensation in the top restaurant trade for a number of years. Demand for new and exotic foods from across the globe is now more prevalent than ever before. This represent a strong opportunity for Welsh growers seeking to diversify their offering and increase productivity. Although these niche crops have been grown successfully in different countries, there is no agronomic advice available which is specific to the climate of Wales.

This two year project will run on two commercial horticulture units in north Wales and will aim:

  1. to gain practical experience of growing edible flowers and exotic vegetables, supported with technical evidence for best practice cultivation in Wales to maximise production potential. 
  2. to develop an evidence base to support growers seeking to implement new crop types on their holdings, including toolkits for new products support with agronomic and marketing advice.  


The field grown plants included in the project include:




Numbers in bold correspond to the trial plan given below.



Also known as Saltwort, the leaves are eaten fresh as a salad vegetable, traditionally eaten with sushi but can be used as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.






A mint-flavoured herb that can be used to supplement salads, as a garnish or as an additional to curries or tempura.


See the source image


Oyster Leaf

Leaves can be used fresh as a salad or garnish, or ingredient in oriental cooking.






Edible Flowers



Flowers can be sold as a garnish, flavouring or processed project (e.g. sugared violet). Can be planted as an annual or as a longer-term perennial.



Ice Plant

Can be grown for ornamental flowers, or as edible leaf and fruit material. Used similar to samphire with fish dishes, or as a salad garnish. A perennial that flowers from July to September, leaf material can be harvested year round once established. 




Can be used as a salad flavouring, or as a vegetable in small quantities.

Image result for begonia flowers edible


Over three growing seasons, a range of information will be collected from sowing through to harvest:

  • Seed densities
  • Nutritional management
  • Crop production timeframe, including time of sowing, time to harvest and how this interacts with seasonal variation. 
  • Hardiness, requirements for protection and response to environmental stress, disease/pest risk. 
  • Plant management
  • Compatibility with other crops and easy of cultivation.  
  • Crop yields and quality

This project will hopefully provide practical information on guidance to growers who wish to expand their product range to include these high value, niche unusual or exotic plants.