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Strange Fruits and Veggies You Need in Your Landscape

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Most gardeners tend to stay in their comfort zone, growing a collection of traditional fruits and veggies such as tomatoes, blueberries, and potatoes. However, there is a whole other world of exciting, intriguing edible plants out there just waiting to be discovered. Many of these exotic plants are not only delicious but incredibly eye-catching, as well. If you’re ready to take on a new challenge and try something adventurous, these strange fruits and veggies may just plants for you.

Note: Since some of these edible plants may be a little challenging, it is best to wait until you have a few seasons of gardening under your belt before attempting to grow them. 

Kohlrabi

This strange-looking brassica is a great choice if you’ve had difficulty with other vegetables in the same family such as cabbage. It is a little hardier and isn’t as plagued by birds and bugs as the more popular brassicas. Enjoy their unique growing style until the stem is about the size of a tennis ball. Roast it with some salt and pepper or enjoy it raw in a salad. You’ll love the sweet cabbage-like flavor with a juicy twist. 

Cucamelons 

What is better than a cucumber? A mini cucumber that looks like a melon, of course. Cucamelons or “mouse melons” are vining veggies that taste similar to cucumbers but grow into compact oval shapes that resemble tiny watermelons. Be sure to harvest at the peak of ripeness and enjoy this vegetable raw with your favorite healthy dip or slice it up and toss it in a salad.

Oca

The “New Zealand Yam,” as it is sometimes called, did not originate in New Zealand but was first popularized and grown commercially there. In reality, oca was first grown in South America and is considered one of the primary food staples of the ancient Incan people. There are many varieties available with different colors and tastes; however, most are similar to potatoes and can be cooked like the more well-known root vegetable. If you find the taste a little bitter, simply peel the skin off before cooking. Enjoy with butter and salt or cooked into a soup.

Romanesco Broccoli

One of the more strange veggies on this list, romanesco broccoli grows in a swirly, peaked fashion that is totally different from that of regular broccoli. It is often compared to the head or tail of a prehistoric dinosaur due to its unique, bright green coloring and knobby, spiked growing pattern. Though it may seem like some strange, exotic vegetable, it is actually a simple broccoli variety. However, no one is sure why or how it grows in this particular manner. Treat it as you would regular broccoli and use it in place of broccoli or cauliflower in many dishes. 

Golden Raspberry ‘Fall Gold’

Golden raspberries actually serve a dual purpose. They are incredibly beautiful and look lovely displayed in a glass bowl on the table with some traditional red berries; however, they may also be beneficial if you’ve had trouble with birds eating raspberries in the past. Since the unique yellow and orange fruit seems unripe to birds, they may leave your berries alone and allow you to reap a full harvest. Grow from potted bushes or rooted stalks. 

Achocha

Usually called by their easier-to-pronounce nickname, “fat babies,” these veggies combine the cooling, subtle taste of cucumber with the sweet, distinct flavor of bell peppers. Achocha will flourish when given a trellis or fence to climb on and will produce pounds of vegetables for cooking. Use them anywhere you’d normally use peppers and peel them or leave the soft spikes on for better visual appeal. 

Cape Gooseberry 

Though they look like orange cherry tomatoes, these slightly sweet berries taste delicious and add an interesting element to your landscape. Have fun unwrapping each berry from its delicate paper casing and enjoy the fruit raw or in baked goods. 

Kiwano

This summer fruit loves a warm, temperate climate and will thrive under the proper growing conditions. Certainly one of the most unique fruits on this list, the kiwano, or horned melon is spiky and orange of the outside and green and juicy on the inside. All of your friends will be convinced that this fruit came from another planet when they take a tour of your garden. 

What are your favorite unconventional fruits and veggies to grow? Let us know in the comments below!

-Susan Patterson

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