How to Grow Unique Vegetables

Overview

If you're one of those gardeners who is tired of planting the same old carrots, peppers and beans every year, try something different. Unique vegetables add pizazz to your dinner table and to the garden. Some veggies like okra may be very familiar to southern cooks and a complete mystery to those up north. Giant vegetables like the cabbages grown in Alaska could certainly be considered unusual. This spring try unusually colored vegetables for a unique cool-season crop.

Basic Preparation and Planting

Step 1

Prepare the soil. All vegetables benefit from rich, loamy, easy-to-work soil. Dig up the garden area. Add a 6-inch layer of compost or other organic material and work in well. Water the garden to see where there are low and high areas. The high areas won't get enough water and the low areas will get soggy. Rake smooth.

Step 2

Presoak seeds. Most seeds benefit from a soaking before planting. Soak large-to-medium seeds like peas and beets in a container of warm water overnight. Small seeds like lettuces and carrots may be soaked by placing on a paper towel and spraying with water. Place inside a plastic bag.

Step 3

Plant seeds immediately after soaking. Most seeds will do well if they're covered with 1/4 inch of soil. The exceptions are large seeds which should be planted from 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep. Water after planting even if the seeds were presoaked.

Select the Vegetable

Step 1

Plant Swiss chard 'Bright Lights' as a border for the veggie garden. The plant grows to 15 inches high with bright green leaves and celery-like stems of yellow, red or white. The veins in the leaves repeat the color of the stem. Very young leaves may be eaten in salads.

Step 2

Plant seeds of 'Black Tuscany' kale, which is actually a very deep purple rather than true black, behind the chard. Normally kale is a deep olive green. The 'Black Tuscany' leaves make the 'Bright Lights' chard pop. The leaves are moderately curled at the ends. The plant grows to about 18 inches high. Kale is steamed or sauteed and has a pleasantly bitter taste.

Step 3

Intersperse brightly colored cauliflower as accents among the kale and chard. Cauliflower 'Cheddar' is a bright orange cauliflower. Its color is from beta-carotene in the plant. Purple cauliflower should be cooked in as little water as possible because the color will wash out. Both orange and purple cauliflower taste like white cauliflower. Green cauliflower is actually a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower and tastes a bit like both.

Step 4

Finish your uniquely colored vegetable garden with kohl rabi, normally a pale green plant growing to 24 inches. Place it as the last row in the back of the garden. The plant grows by throwing out stems from a swollen round stem at the bottom of the plant. The bulb is edible and has a sweet, nutty taste. Kohl rabi 'Blusta' is red while kohl rabi 'Kolibri' is purple.

Maintenance

Step 1

Fertilize plants once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer

Step 2

Water if rain doesn't provide 1 inch of water a week.

Step 3

Harvest greens when the leaves are from 1 to 2 inches long and the plant will keep producing through most of the season. Harvest kohl rabi when it's about the size of a lemon but no bigger than a baseball. Cauliflower may be harvested as soon the heads set. They will continue to grow if left in the ground.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves when handling fertilizers

Things You'll Need

  • Seeds
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Fertilizer

References

  • "The Country Garden;" Charlie Ryrie; 2003
  • "Grow Vegetables: Gardens-Yards-Balconies-Roof Terraces;" Alan Buckingham and Jo Whittingham; 2008

Who Can Help

  • Park Seed: Unusual, Weird Vegetable Plants
  • University of Illinois Extension: Unusual Vegetables
Keywords: grow unique veggies, growing unusal vegetables, growin unique vegetables

About this Author

Katie Rosehill holds an MBA from Arizona State University. She began her writing career soon after college and has written website content and e-books. Her articles have appeared on GardenGuides.com, eHow, and GolfLinks. Favorite topics include personal finance - that MBA does come in handy sometimes - weddings and gardening.