If you stroll through the majority of supermarkets, you will see remarkably similar vegetable types and varieties wherever you live. We sure do love our lettuce, orange carrots, white potatoes, broccoli and other staple vegetables. It’s not surprising that when we set off to plan and plant our own gardens, we often stick with many of the standard crops we purchase in the grocery store. While many of these staples are wonderful fresh from the garden, growing your own vegetables provides a special opportunity to try some of the less commonly known crops. Even some of the more commonly grown vegetable come in an array of colors and varieties that you can’t find in the store.
Here are some less common vegetables to consider trying in your garden. If you’ve never tried some of these crops, I suggest planting one or two each year and deciding which ones you like best, it’s no fun having a whole row full of something your family won’t eat!
Kohlrabi is related to cabbage and is a vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked in stir fries or other dihes. You can plant in the fall for a spring harvest, or transplant outside in the spring for harvesting in the fall.
Beets are a new favorite around our home. They are sweet, can be canned, baked, added to salads, frozen, used as a natural dye, and you can even eat the green tops. Plant them starting in the spring and throughout the growing season for continuous harvest.
Jerusalem artichokes, also called sunchokes, are related to sunflowers and grow beautiful flowers in addition to edible roots. They can be eaten raw or cooked like other root vegetables and have a nice earthy flavor.
Celeriac is related to celery and is grown for its roots and tops. It is generally used much the same as potatoes, but can also be eaten raw, and has a nice mild taste. While it does take a long time to grow, celeriac stores well.
Seakale is a mulit-faceted perennial vegetable with edible shoots, roots, and tops. It is also a beautiful plant that can be used among flowers in your favorite garden. Like asparagus, seakale thrives after several years and the same plant can be divided and enjoyed for years to come.
Both tomatillos and ground cherries form and grow inside husks. When removed from the husk, they can both be used in a variety of ways such as salsas, chilies, jellies, or eaten raw.
Bok Choy is a mildly flavored vegetable perfect for stir fries. It can be grown in the spring or for a fall crop and is not only delicious but beautiful.
If you’re not ready to try some of these more unusual vegetables, consider trying some of the less common varieties of vegetables you already enjoy. While only a few tomato varieties make it to the store, there are hundreds to choose from for your garden. Even vegetables like carrots come in a multitude of colors, so don’t get caught up in planting a traditional vegetable, spice it up by growing interesting vegetables and fantastic varieties.