Have you been growing basic vegetables for the past few years and are ready to grow something more exciting? I love experimenting with unique vegetable seeds, from varieties of crops I’ve already grown. Growing fun vegetables makes growing, cooking, and eating them even more exciting.
Below are some unique vegetable seeds that you can grow in your garden. These seeds are great for a beginner gardener who is ready to branch out into vegetable seeds that are a bit more exciting. For those of you who are more advanced gardeners and are ready to grow truly unique vegetable seeds, stay tuned for my upcoming post.
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The first unique vegetable seed on my list is for the scallop squash, also called a patty pan. This gorgeous little creature is a type of summer squash that is smaller than most squashes and fun to watch grow. Some varieties of patty pans are grown to be “bite size”, easily roasted as a side dish or appetizer. While others are grown to fit in your hand, making a gorgeous decoration for a few days, but can be easily sliced and roasted when ready to eat.
Patty pan’s, like other summer squashes, are typically sowed in the spring and harvested in the summer. In warmer climates, it can be planted in early spring, but in cooler climates, it should be planted in late May-mid June. Patty pans take from 45-65 days to harvest, and are ready to pick when they are completely yellow.
You can treat a scallop squash much like a zucchini. It can be roasted whole if small, or sliced and grilled if it’s bigger.
Believe it or not, tomatoes have a history of coming in all types of colors. From black, brown, or purple, to orange, yellow, and red. They express different colors to reflect the concentration of different nutrients. For example, black or brown colors in tomatoes reflect retained chlorophyll.
I love growing rainbow tomatoes, even if it’s just a few shades of orange or red. When cut up, rainbow tomatoes can make a simple tomato salad super exciting.
In my opinion, there is nothing more exciting than cutting open a watermelon radish. No wonder it’s on my list of fun vegetables. The watermelon radishs’ bright and vibrant colors reflect it’s vibrant, spicy taste. I especially love the way this little guy looks in this watermelon radish salad.
Watermelon radishes are so easy to grow and can be planted at different times of the year. I sow them directly to the soil after the last frost. However, in my covered beds, I typically sow them a few weeks before the last frost since frost can be so unpredictable in Connecticut. I also start sowing them again at the end of summer, and cover the beds through the fall if needed. They’re so hearty and tough, that they are a great spring and fall crop in cooler climates.
How would you feel if I told you that carrots weren’t always commonly orange? At one point, carrots were commonly white and bitter. Overtime growers learned how to make it taste better and come in a variety of colors such as purple and yellow. It’s believe that it wasn’t until the dutch took over carrot growing that carrots became commonly known as orange. I absolutely love the story of how the orange carrot came to be, so feel free to listen to one of my favorite episodes of Gastropod: How the Carrot Became Orange, and Other Stories.
The color of carrots actually reflect it’s concentration of antioxidants. Orange colors are typically made from beta-carotene or vitamin A. While purple colors are typically made from anthocyanins. Some people ask me, “So which color carrot is healthier for you?” All antioxidants are good for you, but in different ways. They also show up in other foods. For example beta-carotene creates the orange/yellow colors in squash, sweet potatoes, and apricots. While anthocyanins create the blue, red, and purple colors in blueberries, strawberries, and red cabbage. That’s why it’s beneficial to eat a variety of different foods.
Carrots can typically be sowed around the same time as radishes. They can be sowed during spring and late summer/early fall, and grow great in a covered raised bed.
Crown of Thorn Gourds
Although these gourds are not edible, I couldn’t make a list of fun things to grow without slipping these in here! Gourds are in the cucurbitae family along with cucumbers, pumpkins, and squash, so they technically fit this list, right? 🙂
I am absolutely obsessed with growing gourds. Mostly because they are so easy to grow, and can save you plenty of money on decorating for the fall! Crown of thorn gourds are some of my favorite to grow because they fit so well on a table or next to pumpkins. Crown of thorn gourds add beautiful textures and layering to your pumpkin arrangements.
Plant these seeds early to mid-summer with plenty of space. The plants are viney and love to climb. I let them climb on a bush, creating such a pretty sight! Gourds are typically ready to harvest when their stem gets hard and dry.
Small Mixed Gourds
It’s impossible for me to recommend gourds without recommended mixed gourds. I absolutely love how many different shapes, sizes and colors gourds come in. Some are plump and smooth while others are crooked and warty. Their diversity allows so many opportunities to decorate!
Chiogga beets, also named candy cane beets are incredibly beautiful specimens. Need I say more? Chiogga beets can be enjoyed roasted, but often resulting in a brown color. I love to admire their beauty by slicing them thinly with a mandolin, and adding them to a salad with arugula, goat cheese, and vinaigrette.
Candy cane beets, like the other root vegetables on this list, can be planted during early spring or late summer/early fall. Once planted, they typically are ready to harvest in 65 days. Candy cane beets are incredibly popular juicing, boiling, baking, freezing, and canning.
In my opinion, kohlrabi is one of the most underrated vegetables there is. Most people come across kohlrabi asking, “what is that alien looking thing?”. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family, typically coming in either light green or purple skin.
I love watching these fun little guys grow, but I also love mixing them in a salad. Kohlrabi is absolutely perfect in a cole slaw on a hot summer day. Although they are often intimidating to cut, most people julienne them to mix into a salad. If you’re ready to take on kohlrabi, check out this amazing kohlrabi slaw.
Kohlrabi love the sun and can be planted a few weeks before the last frost. They often first grow looking like a leafy kale, but as they continue to grow you will notice the base form into a beautiful round bulb.
I first started growing okra solely to cook with it, but quickly fell in love with the way it grows. More commonly grown in the South, I was delighted to find how well it grew in New England weather. It created such a happy shade for other plants, yet continued to grow tall, strong, and develop plenty of crop. There are very few annual vegetable plants that can grow this tall in a short New England summer, making okra necessary to be on my list of unique vegetable seeds.
Okra can be found both green or burgundy red. It loves heat, hence why it grew so tall in the picture above. It’s flowers are sturdy and vibrant, and it’s stalks are strong like a tree. I was even amazed how easy it’s seeds are to harvest, making it easy to save from year to year.
No, that cauliflower is not dyed with food coloring, it’s actually purple! The white color of standard cauliflower is typically made from the antioxidant anthoxanthin. Purple cauliflower, much like purple carrots, is created by the antioxidant anthocyanin. I love roasted purple cauliflower alongside white in order to create an exciting looking dish. However, if you cook them mixed in a dish I highly recommend you cook them separately, and then mix them after.
Both anthoxanthins and anthocyanins are water-soluble, meaning the color leaves the vegetable with water during cooking. So if you steam purple and white cauliflower together, the purple color will leak into the white cauliflower. However, if you roast them separately, then mix together after, you will be able to retain both of their colors for a striking purple and white salad.
Cauliflower is also a cool weather crop, preferring to grow in spring and fall. It tends to bolt in high temperatures, so most people start them indoors, and transplant them after the first frost.
And last but not least, one of my favorite unique vegetable seeds. The only one on this list I haven’t grown yet but am dying to. The chinese pink celery.
I swear I didn’t mean to make this post all about anthocyanins, but it just seems to be working out that way. Pink celery is a rare type of celery mostly found in china. It’s stalks are thinner but incredibly vibrant. Like most of the vegetables on this list, celery loves to be grown in cooler months such as spring and fall. Celery does not tolerate heat at all, and needs to be watered often.
I love chopping this celery up with green celery in any salad. Having the two colors compliment each other can really create an exciting dish.
Did You Enjoy This List of Unique Vegetable Seeds?
If you liked this list of unique vegetable seeds, you’ll probably also find my posts on gardening helpful. Feel free to learn about composting, and growing different foods by checking out my gardening page.