How to Grow Unusual Vegetables That Your Neighbors Won’t Recognize
Growing usual vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers in your garden is great, but expanding your produce palate to include more unique options can be even more exciting and delicious! Here’s how to grow some lesser known vegetables that are sure to get your neighbors talking.
Research Uncommon Vegetable Varieties
The first step is researching uncommon vegetables that you may want to try growing. While you can likely find some unique vegetable seeds at your local garden store, you’ll find a much wider selection of heirloom and exotic varieties through online seed companies.
Some interesting vegetables to consider include:
- Romanesco Broccoli – Vibrant spiraling florets make this an eye-catching plant. It has a nutty, sweet flavor.
- Cucamelon – Looks like a tiny watermelon but tastes like a cucumber. They are crunchy and juicy.
- Ground Cherry – Produces yellow, cherry-like fruits encased in a papery husk. They are quite sweet with a hint of citrus.
- Maltese Onion – A small, flattened onion with a mild, sweet flavor. The bulb stays tender unlike bigger onion varieties.
- Okinawa Spinach – A heat-tolerant, leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients. It has a slightly salty, spinach-like taste.
Search for seed varieties of any uncommon veggies that intrigue you and fit your climate. Focus on finding heirloom or open-pollinated seeds when possible to get the best flavor.
Provide the Right Growing Conditions
Once you’ve selected the uncommon vegetables you want to grow, research their ideal growing conditions. This includes factors like sunlight requirements, soil needs, and growing season.
- Romanesco broccoli thrives in cool weather and should be planted in early spring or fall. It needs nutrient-rich soil and consistent moisture.
- Cucamelons require a long, warm growing season. They need well-draining soil and plenty of sun. Trellising helps maximize production.
- Ground cherries prefer slightly acidic soil and partial shade. They are fairly adaptable plants with few pest problems.
Ensure your vegetable garden has amended soil, proper drainage, and the necessary sunlight exposure before planting your exotic crop. Follow planting, spacing, and care recommendations on seed packets.
Start Seeds at the Right Time
Timing is also key when sowing seeds of uncommon veggies. Since many have long growing seasons or prefer cool weather, an early start indoors is often beneficial.
Here are some tips for success:
- Start heat-loving crops like cucamelons 8-10 weeks before your last expected frost date.
- Sow romanesco broccoli seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your final frost to grow good-sized heads.
- Ground cherries can be seeded directly in the garden 2-3 weeks before the last frost.
- Okinawa spinach should be started 3-4 weeks before the final frost. Give seedlings time to mature before hot weather arrives.
Follow seed packet instructions for when to start seeds indoors and their ideal soil temperature. Use seed-starting mix and grow lights to give seedlings a healthy start before transplanting outdoors according to frost date guidance.
Give Unusual Crops Extra Care
Be diligent about watering, fertilizing, pest management, and harvest times for your unique veggies. Since you are growing rare varieties, you want to help them thrive and produce an abundant yield.
- Check soil moisture frequently, especially for fruits like ground cherries. Provide extra water during dry periods.
- Side dress growing plants with compost or organic fertilizer to fuel growth and flavor.
- Handpick pests like cucumber beetles promptly to prevent damage. Scout for signs of disease too.
- Harvest romanesco when the heads reach full size but are still tight. Pick cucamelons when shiny and green.
- Timely harvesting ensures vegetables continue producing. Follow seed packet guidance.
With extra TLC and the right growing approach, your uncommon veggies are sure to be a neighborhood novelty! Enjoy introducing your gardening friends and family to new flavors.