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Unusual Vegetables to Add Unique Flavor to Your Garden Full Guide of 2023

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unusual vegetables to growYou’ve grown and cooked with common vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, and lettuce for years. While they’re essential staples, it’s easy to get bored eating the same old produce.

Armenian cucumbers, cosmic purple carrots, and jelly melon kiwano offer unusual flavors that will thrill your taste buds. Introducing exotic vegetables like goji berries and hardy kiwis adds intrigue to any dish.

With proper care and growing conditions, these eccentric edibles can thrive in your backyard or containers.

Give your culinary adventures a boost of eccentric flavor by planting a garden filled with unusual vegetables this season.

Key Takeaways

  • Provide full sun and regular water.
  • Trellis vines 8-10 feet apart.
  • Pinch flowers at first for a better yield.
  • Sow after frost.

Armenian Cucumbers

Armenian Cucumbers
You’ll find Armenian cucumbers’ pale green, ribbed melons tasting like cool crunchiness on sunny summer days. Seek out their refreshingly crisp, sweet cucumber flavor to liven up salads and sandwiches.

Pop a few pale green beauties alongside cherry tomatoes, feta, and fresh mint over mixed greens.

Slice thinly and toss into grain bowls for added crunch and moisture. Skewer as part of veggie kabobs with bell peppers and onions for your next backyard BBQ. Grow Armenian cucumbers yourself in full sun, training the lengthy vines up a trellis or fence.

Harvest the cylindrical, ribbed melons when they reach 6-8 inches, before the skin yellows.

With proper care, you’ll be rewarded with abundant pale green crunchiness all season long.

Banana Melons

Banana Melons
You’re growin’ yellowish-green, banana-shaped muskmelons that reach ripeness in 90 days of full sunlight.

Feel the soil daily and water when it’s dry to the touch to keep your melons hydrated in the heat.

Harvest when the rind is firmly yellow and emits a sweet, musky aroma.

Ritually slice melons before breakfast and fill halves with yogurt and granola for a refreshing start to the day.

Grilling brings out their sweetness – brush wedges with oil and sear.

Add to fruit salads or blend into smoothies to enjoy their hydrating nutrients.

Potassium keeps muscles and nerves humming, while vitamin C boosts immunity.

Folks’ll request this tropical treat long after summer ends, so save seeds for next year’s planting.

Chioggia Beets

Chioggia Beets
Rand Strangely fibrous, flashy-funky, chioggia-colored beets bring bursting beauty to your bodacious bountiful harvest. Appeal to your inner foodie hipster and grow striped chioggia beets; their candy cane appearance and unique marketability will spice up your stand at the farmer’s market.

Packed with antioxidants that boost immunity, these beets improve cardiovascular health with their natural nitrates. Slice them into irresistible beet salads to highlight their colorful stripes. Chioggia beets are easy to grow as a cool-season crop, producing shapely roots ready for harvest in just 55 days.

Cosmic Purple Carrots

Cosmic Purple Carrots
You’re right, Chioggia beets offer a fun pop of color in salads and side dishes. But for a truly unusual carrot, go for Cosmic Purple.

These vibrant purple-skinned carrots have a bright orange interior when sliced. Their coloring comes from antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins. Besides adding a totally cosmic look to dishes, these compounds are super healthy for you too.

Sow Cosmic Purple carrot seeds directly in prepared garden soil once spring frosts have passed. Space rows 12-18 inches apart and thin seedlings to 2-4 inches between plants. Loosen soil periodically and irrigate during dry spells.

Your cosmic carrot harvest will be ready in around 70 days. Store extras in the fridge for several weeks.

Enjoy this out-of-this-world veggie roasted, pureed into soups, or shredded raw in salads and slaws.


Try growing the mini watermelons that taste like sweet cucumbers in full sun for a fun and tasty crop this summer. Cucamelons are sure to delight with their unusual taste, bountiful harvest, and spectacular appearance.

  • Grow in full sun.
  • Ready to harvest in 60-75 days.
  • Trellis for support.
  • Pinch off flowers initially for better yield.
  • Pick when marble-sized.

Add some exotic flavor to your garden with these grape-sized, cucumber-flavored fruits enveloped in delicate little watermelon skins.

Goji Berries

Goji Berries
You can grow goji berries in full sun to light shade for their antioxidant-rich red berries. These superfood berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Just a handful of dried goji berries contains over 3,000 ORAC units, providing incredible antioxidant power.

Goji berries are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protective plant compounds like carotenoids and polyphenols. Some studies show goji berries may enhance immune function, reduce inflammation, and protect the eyes from age-related diseases.

While goji berries offer many potential benefits, always check with your doctor before adding significant amounts to your diet, especially if taking medication.

When growing goji berries, give them well-drained soil, full sun to light shade, and space to reach 5-8 feet tall. Harvest the nutritious berries once plants reach 2-3 years old. With their legendary health benefits, goji berries are an exotic superfood well worth cultivating.

Ground Cherries

Ground Cherries
Harvest the delightful, pineapple-flavored fruits of ground cherries before the 75-day season passes you by. Growing ground cherries in your backyard is an opportunity to enjoy their interesting taste straight from the plant.

The small, husked fruits have a sweet yet tangy flavor akin to pineapple, citrus, and strawberries. As a low maintenance plant, ground cherries thrive with minimal care. Simply sow seeds after your last spring frost, water when dry, and harvest when the paper husks turn brown.

The bushy plants reach 2-3 feet tall and spread, making abundant fruit production easy. Enjoy eating fresh ground cherries as a snack, in fruit salads, pies, jams, or steeped as a tea. You may need to beat the squirrels and birds to the harvest, as wildlife is attracted to the fruits too.

Embrace ground cherries to add backyard bounty and fascinating flavor to your gardening.

Hardy Kiwis

Hardy Kiwis
Hardy kiwis are grape-sized, smooth-skinned kiwifruits that need male and female vines grown in full sun to produce fruit. To successfully grow hardy kiwis, trellis vines on a sturdy structure to support their vigorous growth.

Prune annually to promote fruiting wood. Remove old canes after harvest.

Include a male pollinator vine for every 3-8 female vines. Flowers are not self-fertile.

Grow in zones 5-9. Kiwis can handle cold winters but need hot summers.

Intercrop with bee attractors like clover to ensure pollination.

Kiwis transform fences and arbors into edible landscape features. With proper care, your vines will reward you with abundant tasty fruits for years to come.

Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes

Indigo Rose Cherry Tomatoes
These antioxidant-rich purple cherry tomatoes are ready in 90 days when grown in full sun. With purple flesh and skin, indigo rose tomatoes provide unique visual appeal paired with sweet, rich tomato flavor.

Their antioxidants, like anthocyanins, can help reduce inflammation and protect your body’s cells.

To grow, start indigo rose seedlings indoors 6-8 weeks before your last expected frost. Then transplant into well-draining soil in full sun once outdoor temperatures are consistently above 55°F.

Harvest tomatoes when fully colored but still firm. Enjoy their sweet juiciness in salads, salsa, or snacking. Let the vivid purple hues and nutrition benefits of indigo roses flourish in your garden.

Kiwano Jelly Melons

Kiwano Jelly Melons
You’ll treasure discovering this exotic horned melon’s sweet green flesh, reminiscent of lime and banana, when the alien-like spiked rind splits open in your garden. Growing this vine produces abundant fruit for harvesting from late summer into fall.

You’ll relish creative foraging opportunities to gather these unusual ornamental vine fruits to share at garden club activities or dinner parties. Display some of the intricately patterned melons as unique centerpieces before slicing them open to reveal the lime-banana treasure inside.

Use the flesh raw in fruit salads, smoothies, and salsas or cook lightly in stir fries. Store unripe fruit at room temperature to let them fully ripen for several weeks after picking.

Plant this exotic melon on a sturdy trellis in full sun and fertile, well-drained soil for a conversation-starting, tasty crop.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What pests or diseases commonly affect these unusual vegetables?

Check plants regularly for signs of disease or insects. Identify pests quickly and use organic methods like insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat infestations before they spread. Rotate plant families yearly to disrupt pest life cycles. Maintain good airflow and avoid overcrowding.

Pick off diseased leaves immediately and throw them in sealed bags, not compost.

How much space do I need to allow between plants when planting these vegetables?

Except nuts, most vegetables can thrive with 8-12 inches between plants. But eyeball spacing needs, as thirsty plants like tomatoes require ample elbow room while lettuce can snuggle close. Give all vegetables sufficient space to reach maturity unimpeded, then harvest and replant more densely.

What type of fertilizer works best for these vegetables?

When fertilizing unusual vegetables, use organic fertilizers like compost or fish emulsion. They release nutrients slowly, nourishing plants without the risk of burn. Follow package directions for application rates.

Test soil annually to determine specific needs. Adjust accordingly for vibrant, productive crops.

When during the growing season should I start harvesting these vegetables?

Harvest most vegetables once they reach maturity – tomatoes when fully colored, beans when pods fill out, lettuce leaves when sizable. Check seed packets for days to maturity. Pull root crops like carrots when large enough to eat.

Can I save seeds from these unusual vegetables to replant next year?

You can collect seeds from many unusual vegetables to replant, but perennials and rare varieties may be challenging. Do your research, isolate plants, harvest ripe seeds, clean, dry, and store them properly for the best success next season.


Growing unusual vegetables brings excitement and intrigue to any garden. As Ruth Stout said, A garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself. While failures are inevitable, the unique flavors and textures of Armenian cucumbers, banana melons, and cosmic purple carrots are triumphs that make growing these unusual vegetables worthwhile.

With an open mind to experimentation, you can discover new gardening victories, adding spice and color to your backyard harvest. Embrace the unfamiliar, and let unusual vegetables thrive in your garden this season.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.