By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you interested in growing a unique garden? By unique, I mean including vegetables that most people don’t know about let alone produce in a home garden?
If you’re interested in growing something different, you’re in the right spot. I’m going to provide you with a few unique vegetables you may (or may not) have considered producing.
I’ll share where these crops grow best and why you might want to consider adding them to your home garden.
Here are some strange vegetables to consider growing in your garden:
1. Big Max Pumpkins
Big Max Pumpkins require extra growing space. When they’re planted, you can separate them by a little over a foot. By the time they germinate, these plants need approximately three feet between each plant.
When growing this type of pumpkin, be sure to wait until all threat of frost is over. This plant requires plenty of sun, consistent watering, and rich, loamy soil that drains adequately. Expect great things when adding this pumpkin to your garden as they can become as large as 100 pounds!
2. Malabar Spinach
Malabar spinach is a vining spinach. It’s grown frequently in other areas of the world because unlike typical spinach, this plant loves warm temperatures.
In fact, it grows best in areas where the temperature is a minimum of 80-degrees Fahrenheit. It thrives when the temperature soars to 90-degrees Fahrenheit and above. If this is something you’re interested in growing, pick a location with ample sunlight and soil that’s rich and well-draining.
3. Sea Kale
Sea kale is an interesting crop. It’s known for being hardy, producing large leaves, and having tops which resemble broccoli.
If you’re interested in growing sea kale in your home garden, don’t worry too much about growing conditions. The plant loves full sunlight but seems to do well in areas of partial shade, too. It’s important that the soil drains well and remains consistently damp. Otherwise, it isn’t finicky about soil type.
Cucamelons belong to the cucumber family but are something altogether different. This treat is known as a superfood and is high in vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. They’re great for growing for the health benefits but also to help your budget.
If you find cucamelons being sold, they’re typically rather pricey. How can you go about growing this crop yourself? Pick a warm growing location with ample sunlight. It’s important that the soil in this area is rich and well-draining. This plant is a vining variety, so ensure you provide support.
Cardoon is an interesting vegetable that’s used in specialty Italian dishes. The plant is related to the artichoke but has a stalk similar to celery. Yet, you won’t want to eat the stalk raw as we sometimes do celery.
Instead, this crop is used in different sauces and its blooms are dried. From there, they’re used for curdling milk and used for cheese making. If you’re interested in growing cardoon, pick a growing location that’s warm and has full sunlight. The soil must be well-draining, and you’ll need an area with protection from the wind but still give the plant room to spread out as it can become as tall as three feet and as wide as five feet.
6. Chioggia Beets
Chioggia beets are cool looking plants that produce red beets with a candy cane center that has rings similar to a tree trunk. If you’re interested in adding some design to your food while eating your vegetables, this could be for you.
If you’re growing Chioggia beets in the summer, pick an area with partial shade. If you’re growing them in the cooler parts of the year, full sun is best. This vegetable also needs well-draining soil and consistent watering to avoid the beets from taking on a woody texture.
7. Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes
Sometimes growing “strange” vegetables means growing a common plant with a unique color or flavor profile. This is what you get with the indigo rose cherry tomato.
These small tomatoes have a deep color about them that’s sure to brighten up your recipes. Plus, they’re rich in antioxidants. If you’d like to add this tomato to your garden, pick a location with plenty of sunlight and well-draining soil. These tomatoes are known for being hardy in drought and hot weather.
8. Shiso Perilla
Shiso perilla isn’t something widely consumed in the United States. However, if you love Japanese cuisine, it may be worth your time. Shiso perilla is commonly used in sushi recipes, tempura, noodle recipes, and even salads.
When growing shiso perilla, provide a growing location with full to partial sunlight and well-draining soil. Be sure to amend the soil prior to planting and to water regularly.
Scorzonera is a beautiful root crop that has leafy tops and a long black tap root. The green sprigs produce bright yellow flowers.
Once harvested, you may use the root as you would most other root crops such as boiling them, mashing them, or even roasting them. If you’d like to grow scorzonera, it needs a growing location with full sunlight and rich, well-draining soil. Ensure the soil is aerated and easy to work with as the root won’t grow as long if it runs into rocks and other obstacles in the soil.
Kohlrabi is a bulb-like plant that sits atop the soil and produces shoots with leafy ends. You may enjoy the base of the plant which is similar to cabbage or you can cook the leafy greens.
If you’d like to add kohlrabi to your garden, be sure to select an area with full sunlight and soil that’s fertile and drains adequately.
11. Cosmic Purple Carrots
Cosmic purple carrots are a wonderful variety of carrot to include in your garden. This option is rich in antioxidants due to its deep purple exterior. The interior of the carrot is a traditional orange flesh.
Should you decide this variety of carrot is a good option for you, select a growing location with full sunlight. The soil temperature should be no less than 45-degrees Fahrenheit but no greater than 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Ensure the soil is fertile and well-draining. Remove any obstacles in the soil to ensure the roots have room to grow.
12. Armenian Cucumbers
In truth, an Armenian cucumber is a type of melon. Yet, they taste like cucumber, do well in warmer temperatures, are low-maintenance, and produce high yields.
If you’re interested in growing this unique crop, be sure to supply a growing location with full sunlight, at least 60 days free of frost, and ensure the soil is rich and well-draining. Also, it’s wise to provide a trellis for this plant to keep it healthy and your garden tidy.
Oca is typically grown for its tubers. They may be enjoyed cooked, like a potato, or eaten fresh when sliced and incorporated into a salad. They produce a fresh lemony flavor and their skin doesn’t even need to be removed.
If you’re interested in growing a different type of tuber, ensure you have the right growing location. Oca prefers a growing space with part shade, loamy soil that’s consistently damp, and cooler temperatures. You may grow oca in the ground or in containers.
Amaranth is considered a superfood that’s high in vitamins, calcium, and manganese. Not only can this plant be used as a grain, but it also produces leafy tops that may be enjoyed. Plus, they produce in warm weather.
If you’re interested in growing this different crop, be sure you supply adequate growing conditions. Amaranth needs a growing location with full to partial sunlight and rich, well-draining soil.
Salsify is very similar to scorzonera. They’re so similar, many people lump them together. I felt like they each deserved their own mentions because there is a difference in the root colors of these two plants.
When growing salsify, you’ll have a beautiful plant with green tops. The root, however, will be a dull white color. Many people opt to grow salsify in the place of parsnips because it’s so easy to get along with.
16. Yard Long Beans
Yard long beans are easy to spot due to their size. These plants are grown not only for their looks but also because they’re thought to be high in nutrients and contain a plethora of benefits for the consumer’s health.
If you’re interested in growing yard long beans, be sure they have a growing location with full sunlight and well-draining soil. Also, be patient with these beans. They enjoy warm temperatures and may not begin to produce heavily until the temperatures reach approximately 70-degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
17. White Eggplant
White eggplant is great for those who like to be adventurous inside their kitchens. This type of eggplant is known for having a sweeter flavor than traditional purple eggplant. However, the skins are tougher, so they typically need to be removed before use.
White eggplant likes to grow in areas with ample sunlight and well-draining soil that’s high in nutrients. This type of vegetable can be used for a variety of uses including baking, frying, or grilling.
Celeriac is another crop enjoyed in many other countries outside of the United States. This plant shares the same flavor as celery but is much easier to grow.
If you love the taste of celery, consider growing celeriac. Like celery, celeriac prefers consistent moisture, ample sunlight, and well-draining soil. This plant grows best when temperatures range between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit.
19. Rat’s Tail Radish
The rat’s tail radish is one variety which isn’t produced for its roots. Instead, people enjoy the spicy little pods the plant produces. They resemble a green bean.
If you’d like to grow something unique and different in your garden, don’t let the name of this plant deter you. Instead, find a growing location with full sunlight and fertile, well-draining soil to start growing this plant.
20. Pineapple Tomatillo
I enjoy growing tomatillos. I love the traditional salsas which can be made from them. When I discovered there was a pineapple tomatillo, I knew others would be excited as well!
A pineapple tomatillo spreads like regular tomatillos do, but this plant has a sweeter pineapple flavor. It grows best in areas with plenty of sunlight, well-draining soil, and warmer temperatures of 70- to 80-degrees Fahrenheit.
21. Tiger Nuts
Tiger nuts are something many farmers and hunters grow because they’re great for drawing in game and for fattening livestock before processing. Tiger nuts are thought to have a similar taste to hazelnuts.
If you’re interested in growing this plant, pick a location with loose, loamy soil that receives full sunlight. This is a warm weather crop that tends to be lower-maintenance.
22. Pink Plume Celery
If you’re interested in growing different colored crops, don’t miss out on this option for celery. Pink plume celery has stalks with a purple tint.
This crop prefers a growing location with cooler temperatures, well-draining soil that’s evenly and consistently damp, and full to partial sunlight.
23. Turkish Orange Eggplant
Turkish orange eggplant could make a great addition to your Thanksgiving meals. Many people use it as an ingredient in their stuffing due to its rich and unique flavor.
This plant produces small, bright orange eggplants. If growing this type of eggplant, be sure to provide a growing location with full sunlight and warmer temperatures. Plus, they prefer rich, well-draining soil. You’ll also need a trellis to provide support to this plant which produces high yields of fruit.
24. Watermelon Radish
Watermelon radish is an heirloom variety of radish. It has a zesty exterior with a sweeter, pink interior.
If you’re looking for a different style of radish for your garden, consider the watermelon radish. It needs plenty of sunlight and well-draining, fertile soil. Watermelon radishes grow best in spring and fall in most planting zones.
Achocha plants are a vining option that can reach heights between six and seven feet tall. They produce green leaves and small, spiky green fruit. These fruits are said to taste like cucumbers when raw (which isn’t surprising since they belong to the same family) and like a pepper when cooked.
If you’d like to try growing achocha in your home garden, provide rich, fertile soil that drains adequately. Achocha should be grown when all threat of frost is over and in an area with plenty of sunlight.
Kiwano is a fruit, but it’s so unique I couldn’t leave it off this list. Yet, it has a cucumber flavor which shouldn’t be surprising as they’re closely related.
This horned fruit has an interesting green melon interior. If you’d like to try growing this plant, be sure it has a growing location with full sunlight and well-draining soil.
27. Romanesco Broccoli
Romanesco broccoli has the same texture as cauliflower heads, but they have a more pointed design to them.
This type of broccoli should be grown when the temperatures are at or above 60-degrees Fahrenheit. Plus, this plant enjoys full to partial sunlight (depending on the time of year) and well-draining soil.
28. Mung Bean
Mung beans can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They can be enjoyed fresh, canned, or even when sprouted.
If you’re interested in adding more variety to your diet, consider growing the mung bean. This plant needs fertile, well-draining soil and ample sunlight to grow well in most areas.
29. Golden Zucchini
Do you get tired of hunting down zucchini in your garden? They’re easy to miss due to their green coloring. Golden zucchini can fix this.
These crops are hard to overlook because they have a bright yellow color. They require the same growing conditions as other zucchini varieties. The only difference is yellow zucchini are a little sweeter than green zucchini.
Jicama is becoming a more popular crop thanks to cooking shows that have taken over our televisions. If you’ve heard of jicama and would like to try growing it yourself, be sure to supply what the plant needs.
When growing jicama, it needs ample sunlight, well-draining soil that’s high in nutrients, and a trellis. This plant prefers warmer climates, so it will be an annual in most planting zones.
You now have thirty different options for unique or strange plants to add to your garden area. These plants are sure to provide different flavors to your recipes.
If you’re trying to branch out, don’t spend lots of time and money tracking down unique ingredients. Invest in your gardening skills and begin learning how to grow different vegetables around your home garden.