I don’t know about you, but we are starting to plan our spring vegetable garden planting. We wanted to see if there are any unusual vegetables that I could plant this year. I found several that I want to share with you.
Just think how fun it will be to try to grow some of these unique vegetables. We all might find some new favorites to plant every year!
Really Unique Vegetables
Different from the traditional spring radishes which are red and white, the black radish has black skin and a larger diameter 3-4 inches around.
The flavor is more pungent, kind of like horseradish, and the skin and texture are tougher too. You will get comments when you serve this unique vegetable at dinner.
You have to try them! The black skin and white flesh will add interesting color and texture to your dishes. I love these sliced and sauteed in butter and sea salt. Yum!
You can find the black radish seeds on Amazon.
This unique vegetable tastes like brussels sprouts, but have a sweeter, milder taste. Reddish purple in color, maybe your kids will like these better than regular Brussels sprouts!
Try to grow some of these beautiful red Brussels sprouts in your garden this year.
Also known as celery root, celeriac is a variety of celery.
It’s a knobby vegetable with an edible bulbous root, leaves, and stems. Its flavor reminds me of celery and parsley with a bit of nuttiness added in.
Celeriac is an excellent alternative to potato, as it has little starch.
You can eat celeriac raw or cooked. Options are to prepare it roasted, stewed, blanched, mashed, or added to soups and casseroles. You can also use the leaves as a garnish. For ideas, Epicurious has 15 recipes for Celeriac Root, all delicious!
Celeric seeds are available at Amazon.
Also known as mirliton squash, this is a gourd vegetable. Unlike other gourds that have tons of seeds, chayote has a pear shape with a single, large flat pit that is edible.
It tastes like a cross between an apple and a cucumber. You’ll prepare it like you would summer squash, cucumbers, or melons.
Cajun and Creole cuisines call it mirliton squash and serve it stuffed during the holidays.
Chayote seeds are available from Amazon.
We grew these in our garden last year for the first time, and you cannot believe the comments we received. These are really unique vegetables and are so cute!
Looking like baby watermelons, the cuties are really good to eat too! They taste kind of a citrusy cucumber in a very small package.
You have definitely got to try these in your garden this year. They can be perennials in some areas. Here’s the Amazon link for cucamelon seeds for you.
Jjicama is also called a yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Mexican potato. In fact, it’s native to Mexico.
Jicama has a globe shape, bolden-brown skin, and white interior. Jicama needs a long, hot growing season, so it won’t grow everywhere.
Similar in texture to a turnip, it tastes kind of like a starchy apple. Slice it and eat it raw, use it to make salsa or chips, and add to soups and stir-fry. You don’t have to worry about it turning brown or getting soggy once it is peeled and sliced. It won’t!
You can find jicama seeds at Amazon.
You might know this plant as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. The leaves are commonly used in Cantonese cuisine. Fun fact, broccolini is a cross between broccoli and this kai-lan.
You can use it in any dish that you would use broccoli, and the leaves make a delicious salad.
Organic, non-GMO Kai-lan seeds are available at Amazon.
A member of the cabbage family, kohlrabi is sometimes called a German turnip. It’s an interesting plant. The stems grow out of what looks like the root but is actually a swollen stem kind of like broccoli. You eat the root and the greens. You will need to peel the globe first.
Kohlrabi has a mild, sweet flavor, with a crisp, crunchy texture. It tastes like a mix between a turnip and chestnuts. The root made into fries or slaw. Use the leaves to make into a salad and you can eat the stems as a raw snack.
You can tell by looking at it that this is a cactus plant.
These are hardy in zones 8b to 10b. Bring them indoors if temperatures drop below 25F. We have ours in a pot that we move into the greenhouse when winter comes, take out to the patio for the summer sun.
The paddle-shaped leaves and fruit of the cactus plant Opuntia are edible. You know the fruit as prickly pear.
To prepare the paddles, you clean and remove the spines, then slice them into strips. Grill or broil them, and add them to salads, stews, and even veggie tacos. A very common ingredient in Mexican cuisine.
A spineless nopales cactus is available at Amazon. You will need to plant when it arrives. as it is unpotted. These make beautiful ornamental plants and have orange to yellow to white flowers. Plus you can eat the leaves!
Romanesco is Italian heirloom broccoli and has been around since the 16th century. It produces 7″ heads with apple green, whorled pinnacles all over. Its fractal-like appearance will certainly start a conversation!
A variant of cauliflower, Romanesco comes from the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage.
It has an earthy, nutty, mildly sweet flavor that is delicious in stir-fries. Eat Romanesco raw or cooked. When you cook this unique vegetable, it will retain its green color.
I found a twin pack of non-GMO seeds for you at Amazon.
Also known as Jerusalem artichokes, they have no relation to artichokes and no association with Jerusalem. Sunchokes actually belong to the sunflower family. The Italian word for sunflower is Girasole, which might sound like “Jerusalem” and might account for the misnomer.
This plant is sometimes called “fartichoke” as it is known to cause bloating and gas after eating it. Just be careful the first few times you try this one of our unusual vegetable lineups!
The flowers are a pretty addition to your garden but there’s more to this plant. The tubers are a low-starch alternative to potatoes. They’re sometimes used for fermentation for alcoholic beverages instead of using beet sugar due to preferences.
There are several available at Amazon, but this is the one we prefer. The offer is five early maturing and organic tubers that you plant.
Sometimes called the Goa bean, four-cornered bean, four-angled beans, the bean pods have four wings running lengthwise. These are really unusual beans in the bean vegetable world.
All parts of the plant are edible. The leaves are like spinach. Use the flowers in salads, the tubers can be eaten raw or cooked, and the seeds can be used like soybeans are.
These bean seeds are non-GMO and grown in California.
Yard Long Beans
Long beans are also known as asparagus beans, Chinese long beans, and snake beans. They don’t actually grow a yard long but will get about ½ yard long. The pods grow in pairs and the plants grow really fast.
One Amazon reviewer actually complained that they grew so fast and had such a large harvest that they were too much work! Talk about an unusual vegetable!
Prepare these as you would green beans, and eat fresh or cooked. Perfect in stir-fries too, they taste somewhat like bush beans.
I ordered these Long Bean seeds for my garden.
Unique Vegetables Wrap-Up
So, we found 13 really unusual vegetables that we are going to plant in our veggie garden this summer. Did you see any that you want to try too? We included the Amazon link to each of the vegetables to make it easier for you to find them.
For more reading about growing vegetables, we wrote about the best vegetables to grow in containers. Even if you have a very small space available, you can successfully grow and harvest vegetables in containers.