How to Grow Unconventional Vegetables in Your Backyard

How to Grow Unconventional Vegetables in Your Backyard

How to Grow Unconventional Vegetables in Your Backyard

Growing uncommon vegetables in your backyard can add excitement to your garden and dinner table. With some planning and care, you can have a productive and unique vegetable patch.

Selecting Unconventional Vegetables to Grow

When choosing unusual vegetables to grow, consider these factors:

Climate and Growing Conditions

Make sure to select varieties that will thrive in your hardiness zone and soil type. Check seed packets or plant tags for recommended growing zones. Provide plants with proper sun exposure, spacing, and irrigation.

Some unconventional veggies that grow well in various climates include:

  • Kohlrabi – Grows in cool weather. Handles frosts.
  • Salsify – Tolerates cold. Prefers loose, well-drained soil.
  • Yacon – Requires warm weather. Sensitive to frost.

Space Requirements

Consider the mature size of unfamiliar vegetables when planning your garden layout. Some require significant spacing:

  • Artichokes – Spacing of 4 feet between plants.
  • Tomatillos – Needs at least 3-4 feet between plants.
  • Okra – Space 2-3 feet apart. Can reach 5 feet tall.

Growth Time

Factor in days to maturity when choosing varieties. Opt for quick-maturing crops if your growing season is short.

  • Radicchio – 55 to 70 days to maturity.
  • Kohlrabi – Ready in 45 to 60 days.
  • Fava beans – Takes 85 days or more.

Personal Preferences

Select unique veggies you and your family would enjoy eating. Try:

  • Unusual leafy greens like orach or epazote.
  • Colorful carrots – purple, red, or yellow.
  • Mini veggie varieties like baby corn or tiny tim tomatoes.

Obtaining Seeds and Starter Plants

You can find seeds or starter plants for unconventional vegetables at:

  • Local garden stores or nurseries
  • Farmers markets
  • Online seed retailers – They offer the widest selection of varieties.

If choosing starter plants, inspect roots and foliage for signs of pests, disease, or damage before purchasing. When buying seeds, check expiration dates.

Preparing and Amending Soil

Most unusual veggies thrive in nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. Apply aged compost or well-rotted manure before planting. My soil has heavy clay, so I also mix in:

  • Coir or peat to improve drainage
  • Perlite to increase aeration
  • A balanced organic fertilizer for nutrients

Soil pH should be between 6.0 and 7.0 for most vegetables. Test your soil and adjust pH if needed. Install trellises before planting vining crops like malabar spinach.

Planting, Maintaining, and Harvesting the Crop

Follow seed packet guidance for planting depths, thinning, and spacing. Use row covers to protect sensitive crops from pests. Consistent watering is essential – about 1 inch weekly for most vegetables. Apply nutritious compost tea or organic vegetable fertilizer during the growing season.

Monitor for diseases and unusual pests that may target specific crops. Identify and troubleshoot issues early. Harvest most vegetables at peak ripeness for best flavor. Learn when commodities like sunchokes or fennel will be their sweetest and most crisp.

Enjoying and Preserving the Yield

Finding recipes that use uncommon produce will help you get the most value from your special harvest. Try:

  • Sautéing yaprak with olive oil and lemon
  • Roasting multicolored carrots and chioggia beets
  • Making kimchi with Napa cabbage and daikon radish

Preserve abundant yields by canning, freezing, or drying. Store hardy produce properly to maximize shelf life. For example, yacon keeps best in a cool, ventilated area.

With research and care, you can create a flourishing and unique edible garden. Plant a selection of unfamiliar vegetables this season to add diversity and fresh flavors to your backyard.