How to Grow Unusual Vegetables in Your Backyard Garden
Growing unusual vegetables in your backyard garden can add variety and intrigue to your homegrown produce. With some planning and care, you can have a productive and eye-catching edible garden. Here are some tips for getting started:
Selecting Unusual Vegetables to Grow
When choosing unusual veggies to grow, look for heirloom varieties or more exotic options you don’t typically see in grocery stores. Some options to consider include:
- Try different shapes like pear tomatoes or more obscure varieties like Black Krim or Green Zebra for a more unique crop.
- Go for heirloom tomatoes with outstanding flavors that you can’t find with hybrid tomatoes.
- Grow a rainbow of colors like purple, pink, orange, yellow or even striped tomatoes.
- Instead of the classic purple eggplant, grow white, green or striped varieties.
- Consider smaller fruiting types like fingerling or graffiti eggplants.
- For fun shapes, try round egg-shaped or longer cylindrical options.
Unusual Root Vegetables
- Grow elongated parsnips for a sweet, celery-like taste.
- Try salsify, also called vegetable oysters, for its oyster-like flavor.
- Plant celeriac for its nutty, celery-root taste.
- Grow multicolored swiss chard for its brightly colored stems.
- Try broccoli raab for its bitter leaves and buds.
- Grow komatsuna, a Japanese mustard green, for its unique flavor.
Choosing the Right Location
When planting unusual veggies, make sure to choose an optimal location:
- Pick a sunny spot in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Most vegetables need lots of sun.
- Prepare raised garden beds to improve drainage and your ability to manage the soil.
- For taller or vining plants, use trellises or cages to support their growth.
Providing Proper Care
Follow good growing practices to help your unusual vegetables thrive:
- Amend your soil with compost or organic material to encourage fertility.
- Maintain proper nutrition with balanced fertilizers. Many veggies are heavy feeders.
- Use row covers or bird netting to protect from pests when plants are young.
- Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to maintain consistent moisture.
- Weed and mulch around plants to reduce competition and retain soil moisture.
Overcoming Common Challenges
Here are some potential issues and solutions for growing unique vegetables:
- Lack of pollination – Assist pollination by hand for fruits like tomatoes. Or attract pollinators by planting flowers.
- Poor fruit set – This can happen if temps are too high or too low. Provide shade or frost protection where relevant.
- Bolting – Prevent premature bolting in greens by planting successionally and picking leaves promptly.
- Limited pest resistance – Monitor for pests frequently. Remove by hand or use organic sprays if needed.
With smart site selection, attentive care, and awareness of potential issues, your unusual veggies can thrive! Be adventurous with new flavors and textures to liven up your backyard harvest.