Articles, Blog

10 Unusual Vegetables for Adventurous Gardeners

October 17, 2019

[Music] Growing our own food gives us the
opportunity to enjoy produce as fresh and healthy as it’s possible to get. It also means zero food miles and, if we choose, the chance to grow food with
fewer artificial fertilizers and pesticides. But the really exciting reason to grow more of our own
is the chance to try something different! There are many quirky crops out there
just waiting to be discovered, so if you fancy trying something new, here’s our top 10 unusual vegetables to
shake things up in the garden. Let’s start with this monster – cardoon! Closely related to globe artichoke and
with similarly striking thistle-like blooms, cardoons are in fact grown for their incredible architectural stems. Looking a lot like super-sized celery, the
earthy stems are delicious served up in a gratin. Cardoon needs lots of space,
sunshine, and a free draining soil. This leafy exotic is more commonly
associated with Japanese cuisine, where it’s used in tempuras and sushi. The taste conjures up a curious mix of herbs from
mint to basil, as well as spices such as cinnamon. Red-leaved shiso perilla is a stunner,
but it’s the green form that wins on flavor. Oca is a member of the wood sorrel family,
and certainly has its distinctive leaf shape. The leaves can be eaten in moderation,
but the real treat lies beneath the ground. Oca tubers are rich in vitamin C and may be eaten raw
or cooked in exactly the same ways as potato. Oca is planted in spring with the tubers forming in early autumn. It tastes like a nutty version of celery but is more often
mashed like potato – meet celeriac! This hardy, versatile winter root may also be
grated raw, boiled or braised. Or cut it into cubes and drop it into stews or soups. With young plants going in from spring, this is
the perfect follow-on crop for ground recently vacated by other winter staples. This culinary climber is Malabar spinach,
an Asian vine with pretty red stems and delicious fleshy leaves
that are perfect in salads or stir-fried. A perennial, grown as an annual in regions
prone to frost, Malabar spinach loves rich, fertile soil
and grows best in full sun. Next up – kohlrabi! Kohlrabi is an almost alien-looking vegetable
that’s used in a similar way to turnip. The bulbs are in fact swollen stems
and taste like tender broccoli. They grow best from the second
half of summer, and should be harvested before they reach tennis ball-size. We love them sliced then baked into healthy fries. Let’s take a look at another
member of the Brassica family – seakale. This quirky perennial needs a permanent
bed, like rhubarb or asparagus. Seakale is forced into growth in winter and
early spring using special forcing pots to give one at the earliest harvests of
the season. The tender pale stems that follow are a
real delicacy and cooked just like asparagus. This maritime native prefers
free-draining soils. Move over quinoa, there’s a new grain on the block –
amaranth! Also known as ‘love-lies-bleeding’ – you can see why
here – amaranth seeds are full of hugely healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Amaranth grows well in most
soils and prefers a warm, sunny spot. Look out for the variety ‘Red Callaloo’ too,
grown for it’s versatile and nutritious leaves. Round red radishes are a summer staple, but did you know there’s a whole other side to the humble radish? Just as easy to grow as their summer cousins,
winter radishes include the mild-flavored daikon that’s often used in Asian cuisines, the tender if
formidable-looking ‘Black Spanish’ radish and this – the almost impossibly
vibrant watermelon radish. What a stunner! Two very similar vegetables take up our final slot. Salsify and scorzonera both enjoy light, well-drained soil
and sunny, open position. They don’t look like much above ground,
but that’s no problem because it’s the super hardy roots we’re after, which
have a delicate, sweet flavor reminiscent of oysters. Lift them as needed from autumn onwards to enjoy
boiled or grated raw. I invite you to try a few of these tasty eccentrics. They’ll certainly bring something new to the dinner table! If you’ve grown any of them before, please
share your experiences below. Were they tasty,
and would you recommend them to others? As always, we invite you to subscribe
if you haven’t already done so. Join us to lift the lid on more
vegetables and fruits – quirky or otherwise! I’ll catch you next time. [Music]


  • Reply Chona Noval Gelbolingo May 10, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Interesting. My bf and I are so into gardening. I really wanted to have one of my own and your videos inspire me

  • Reply Deaner Family Farm May 10, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Kohlrabi is a stunner in the garden and a great conversation piece as well. Friends and neighbors rave about the “alien” looking plant and we love to eat the tender bulb chopped thin and baked with olive oil and sea salt.

  • Reply scifigrl23 May 10, 2019 at 11:13 am

    Most of those plants were not so attractive I've got to say

  • Reply musa deniz May 10, 2019 at 11:17 am

    çok güzel bir videoydu, ilginç bitkiler

  • Reply oddo pops May 10, 2019 at 11:20 am


  • Reply Sandra M May 10, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Last year I grew scorzonera for the first time.  I grew the plants in a deep pot so that they were easier to harvest…just turn the pot over and pour out the soil and the roots.  (I had read somewhere that the long roots break easily when dug.)  They did taste great!  I'd like to grow them to their second year sometime as they are supposed to have beautiful flowers.  Have also grown celeriac and kohlrabi.

  • Reply D N May 10, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    All good stuff

  • Reply Jawjagrrl May 10, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Will have to consider some of these – we love growing unusual items. Favorites added this year include pink celery, red orach, celtuce, bitter melon, noodle beans and Yacon.

  • Reply Orsucci82 May 10, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    We LOVE Kohlrabi …. some varieties are huge.

  • Reply OooToob May 10, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    I grew celeriac on my allotment last year and it was one of the best crops I had – great for soup and stews. I had mixed success with kohlrabi. I grew some cardoons from seed last year and they have over-wintered so should grow big and strong this year. I do like the look of salsify though, so may give them a try.

  • Reply lane laney May 10, 2019 at 3:20 pm

    Another winner. I've just been thinking of new plants to try in my organic garden and you gave me several excellent ideas. So thanks!

  • Reply Gareth Brown May 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Love celeriac and planted it last year but it didn't form bulbs – lots of foliage but nothing underground. Anyone have any advice?

  • Reply the happy mezzo May 10, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    I think I've been pulling out Oca as a weed. I'll have to leave a couple and see if they form tubers.

  • Reply Tara Walker May 10, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    I really love you videos! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Tara Walker May 10, 2019 at 4:14 pm

    I grew Malabar spinach last summer and it is definitely one of my summer favorites. Easy to grow, awesome yielder, and beautiful!

  • Reply Crafty Pam May 10, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Being unable to eat potatoes, I cast around for a substitute to grow. I discovered oca about four years ago, and don't even bother to plant new ones any more, because, no matter how carefully I harvest their delicious roots, I always miss a few, and they grow back in the next spring! Might try that vine spinach if I can find seeds, and have been looking for the watermelon radish seeds for a few years without success. If anyone can help me with that, I'd appreciate it 🙂

  • Reply Bravo Luca May 10, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Do you grow all of these vegetables ?

  • Reply Wild Boar Channel May 10, 2019 at 6:54 pm

    Very nice video

  • Reply Shih Tzus Rule May 10, 2019 at 7:41 pm

    I sow wanted to grow amaranth this year. 😀

  • Reply Benni L May 10, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    I love kohlrabi and grow them every year. I prefer eating them raw. Thanks for a great channel👍

  • Reply LilBoyBlue May 10, 2019 at 9:05 pm

    Kohlrabi, celeriac, salsify, sea kale, daikon and black radish are staples in my garden every year, and I'd absolutely recommend them as being very tasty. Salsify can be hard to peel and stains your fingers if peeled raw. I just boil the roots for about 10-15 minutes, peel and all, then it's very easy. The water will turn black, but the roots won't stain your fingers.

  • Reply Feli Müller May 10, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    maybe this is a regional thing, but kohlrabi, celeriac or salsify are absolutely common crops/ foods here in germany!

  • Reply LiTtLeBiToFeVeRyThInG May 10, 2019 at 10:21 pm

    hey, I've been gardening for over 10 years now mostly veggies and i am starting a youtube channel and i just posted a video updating/touring my vegetable garden. can you support me and help me grow? id appreciate it! ill subscribe right back as well in return. happy planting

  • Reply pooflick123 May 11, 2019 at 12:12 am

    You lost me at the Oyster Root

  • Reply அவானி உயர்ந்தது May 11, 2019 at 1:14 am

    I love trying new things. This year I’m trying Ground Berry(cherry) Fingers crossed

  • Reply Bossy May 11, 2019 at 3:29 am

    I've tried Malabar spinach and love it! I love trying different fruits and veggies from around the world!

  • Reply Adam Doxford May 11, 2019 at 11:18 am

    I'm growing red and green shiso from seed imported from Japan, it's growing well in pots indoors but I'm reticent to put it outside.

    Will it grow well over the English summer? I'm also concerned it might spread and become invasive, but I figure it's fairly unlikely in our climate…

  • Reply Couann Benner May 11, 2019 at 11:32 am

    Amaranth si so easy to grow…throw the seeds in and forget about them and you get a beautiful plant , very pretty

  • Reply J.French Rennier May 11, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I grow French radish that ends up a foot long. Malabar spinach is a staple for me yearly. Was disappointed with kohlrabi but for unusual I grow Blue Java bananas in Louisiana. Blue tinted skin with a vanilla sweet flavor. Had to create a separate planter box in the soil & in this way before a hard frost, cut them back to 6" then cover. Will plant 2 here at my winter home in Ocala Florida, likely will get me in trouble with the Country Club Homeowners association again, haha (I return late Spring & end of summer for 2 weeks catching up pruning & playing golf).
    Used to do Moranga Olifera but lost them all in a particular week long hard freeze.
    Thanks again for an informative video.

  • Reply Gardening Jones May 11, 2019 at 1:18 pm

    Scorzonera, wrapped in prosciutto and roasted…wonderful! I've also grown Malabar spinach, stunning but a wee bit chewy. Kohlrabi, celeriac, and amaranth are all staples in our garden. For info on growing them, check out We love trying the unusual, so you'll find even more there.

  • Reply Stephen O'Sullivan May 11, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    In on the edge of zones 6 & 7 in eastern PA in the US. When would I plant winter radishes & when do they get harvested?

  • Reply Linda Ikuta May 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm

    I grow the Red Perilla (Shiso) every year. It will naturalize. I dry it and use on rice. We mainly grow to color Ume.

  • Reply wynnejoy May 11, 2019 at 5:02 pm

    Have had good success with kohlrabi (we most enjoy it peeled it cut up fresh in salads), rainbow radishes (though haven't tried them as a winter crop, thanks for that tip!), and amaranth (grows easily, but also reseeds easily, FYI. Wish we had a larger plot of land to grow enough amaranth for a harvest that will give us several meals of this tasty and proteinaceous grain, but with the space we have, one year's harvest wasn't enough to provide a single pot of breakfast cereal. Can't wait to try some of the others listed! Malabar spinach is in this year's plan, and look forward to celeriac, shiso perilla and cardoons especially!

  • Reply Mar Betu May 11, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    I like your new glasses. Last year I tried ginger from stuff that was sprouting at the supermarket. It got killed in the frost in october. I wonder if it might re shoot?

  • Reply Sean Reid May 11, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    I've never eaten Amaranth seeds before but we use the leaves & stems, Callaloo. Great vid as usual! 😉👍🏽

  • Reply Anne Kertscher May 11, 2019 at 8:10 pm

    Love your tips and unpretentious approach to gardening. Kohlrabi – giant Kossak grow very large without becoming pethy or woody. Freeze well and delicious sliced, steamed and buttered, also good creamed.

  • Reply Holistic Cure May 11, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    Another one I grow is called sorrel … it’s sour and very healthy 🙂

  • Reply Jean Arthur May 12, 2019 at 1:05 am

    Tried Amaranth last year, but the deer kept topping it off

  • Reply Mary's Organic Garden Journal May 12, 2019 at 2:21 am

    I'm growing celeriac and malabar spinach this year. Looking forward to a great year and trying some more new veggies. Thanks for the ideas.

  • Reply Elizabeth Lane May 12, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Kohlrabi is a great veggie, mildly reminiscent of a turnip. I grew kolibri from Pinetree, amazing!

  • Reply Elisse Goldstein-Clark May 12, 2019 at 8:47 am

    We grow Shiso and Amaranth, as we grow a lot of Vietnamese herbs and greens for my chef husband's Vietnamese dishes. I haven't had much luck with the watermelon radishes in the past– I need to plant them again!

  • Reply Arreis May 12, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Very cool, but please don’t encourage people to grow shiso. When it escapes from gardens it becomes a problematic noxious weed.

  • Reply srank87 May 12, 2019 at 3:09 pm

    I’ve grown kohlrabi the last two summers. Love the “alien” look of the vegetable and it tastes just like broccoli. can’t wait to start my third crop this summer

  • Reply daisy gurl May 12, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Thank you for the introduction to many things I have not yet seen.
    I have grown Malabar spinach as well. It is rather a different texture from a true spinach. It almost melts in your mouth. Something else about it is that once it grows in a spot,
    it is hard to keep it from coming back, if you have decided that it's not for you. Easy to grow, almost invasive.
    Pigeon peas are a wonderful addition to the garden. They grow into tree-like structures, have an abundance of pods, and make the best sprouts! They can also be dried for use in soups and stews. Moringa is another unique plant that is easy to grow and provides prolific, tasty leaves.

  • Reply hoodiewoman louisiana May 12, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    I’ve grown kohlrabi and like the taste very much. It’s a good vegetable for kids: Brave ones eat it happily, but scare other kids with a threat of kohlrabi to make them eat broccoli!!!

  • Reply Christine Sforza May 12, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Enjoyed this article so much. I have grown the sputnik-like kohlrabi and enjoyed it raw, as a thinly-sliced dipper for hummus. So good. Thanks for the info.

  • Reply ric ardo May 13, 2019 at 4:15 am

    There is no "r" in Oca. Just stop it, so annoying.

  • Reply Philip Payne May 13, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Hi I've grown malabar spinach but didn't like it the leaves are too waxy for my liking. I've also grown Kohlrabi, found that a bit tasteless sorry not giving much support for your idea's however I do intend to try and grow diakon radish, think they would be more worthwhile.

  • Reply Darian Bentley May 14, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Another great video from the Grow veg team. Thanks! I'd like to see an entire video focused on potato alternatives. And or disease resistant crops!

  • Reply sammimitsu May 15, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Very interesting indeed, but you should perhaps put the names on-screen with the image to make them easier to find when shopping, especially for your subscribers for whom English is not a first language. I could not find 'okka' or however it's spelt.

  • Reply Craft Farms May 16, 2019 at 7:06 pm

    I haven't heard of some of these. Thanks for the great lesson. I will look at this again and try one of them. Thanks

  • Reply sammimitsu May 23, 2019 at 7:28 am

    Why should the oca leaves be 'eaten in moderation?' Are they toxic due to oxalic acid? I grow callaloo but only eat it steamed due to the oxalates, but my Jamaican neighbour juices it. Also, I only just heard that you can eat radish leaves! I've thrown them away for years but they can be eaten raw when young and tender, or cooked in stir fries etc.

  • Reply M Callahan May 25, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    I have two colors of amaranth to grow this year and looking forward to planting watermelon radish this fall. I grew the daikon radish this spring and while it didn’t get very big due to our crazy dramatic weather in Kansas City, it is delicious. I planted malibar spinach 3 times but it hasn’t germinated.

  • Reply Moore Time in the Kitchen May 26, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Wonderfully weird: I identify with the kohlrabi

  • Reply Good Gardening Videos May 29, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Terrific! This is one of 12 new videos we've chosen to promote this month.

  • Reply Luke Hebert August 19, 2019 at 10:37 pm

    Wouldn't recommend malabar spinach for salads because it has a mucilaginous mouth feel. It goes great in soups or stir-fry.

  • Reply Rockitty Lima September 20, 2019 at 2:49 pm

    I came across a couple more varieties of raddish, they look rather interesting.

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