Though best known for their spiny rind, burr gherkins, a West African cucumber-like veggie, have been a gardener's secret for a number of reasons. Probably the most obvious reason: Burr gherkins grow like crazy. Even in less-than-hospitable environments (like, say, a desert), growers are impressed and a little overwhelmed by their yield from one plant. These little cukes are an ideal step into heirloom gardening because they're easy to maintain since they don't have the same pest issues as cucumbers. If you're just looking for a couple to try out before you make the plunge into plant ownership, McClendon's has plenty of organic burr gherkins for the picking.
Heather Hoch Tastes like a cucumber but looks like a weapon -- it's the burr gherkin.