Top 10 Must-Try Exotic Vegetables for Experienced Gardeners

Exotic Vegetables

As an organic farmer, I believe that trying new and unique produce is important not only for culinary exploration but also for our health. In this article, we’ll explore 10 exotic vegetables that you can grow in your own garden. Growing exotic vegetables can be a fun and exciting way to diversify your garden.

10 Exotic Vegetables Options to Try in Your Garden:

Purple Kohlrabi: How to Grow and Cook this Exotic Vegetable

Purple Kohlrabi person holding green leaf plant

Purple Kohlrabi: How to Grow and Cook this Exotic Vegetable Purple Kohlrabi is a unique and versatile vegetable that can be grown in your backyard garden. This unusual looking vegetable has a bright purple skin and a white, crunchy flesh with a mild, sweet taste. To grow Purple Kohlrabi, start by planting seeds in well-draining soil in early spring or fall. Be sure to keep the soil moist and provide plenty of sunlight to encourage growth. Harvest the bulbs when they are about the size of a tennis ball and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. Purple Kohlrabi can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in a variety of dishes. Try roasting, steaming, or sautéing it for a unique twist on your favorite recipes.

Salsify: The Exotic Root Vegetable You Need to Try

Salsify black and yellow bee on yellow flower

Salsify: The Exotic Root Vegetable You Need to Try Salsify, also known as the “oyster plant,” is a root vegetable that has a delicate flavor and a texture similar to that of a parsnip. It is a versatile ingredient that can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiled, mashed, or roasted. To grow salsify, plant the seeds in well-draining soil in early spring or late summer. The plants prefer cool weather and should be watered regularly. Harvest the roots when they are about the size of a pencil and store them in a cool, dry place until ready to use. Salsify can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles, or even served as a side dish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Water Spinach: The Nutrient-Rich Aquatic Vegetable

Water Spinach selective focus photography of green succulent plant with water droplets

Water Spinach: The Nutrient-Rich Aquatic Vegetable Water Spinach, also known as Kangkong or Chinese Watercress, is a nutrient-rich aquatic vegetable that is commonly used in Asian cuisine. This fast-growing plant prefers warm weather and plenty of moisture, making it a great addition to your aquaponics system or hydroponic garden. To grow Water Spinach, start by planting cuttings or seeds in a container of water or in well-draining soil. Be sure to keep the soil or water moist and provide plenty of sunlight to encourage growth. Harvest the leaves and stems when they are young and tender, and use them in stir-fries, soups, and salads.

Chinese Artichoke: The Rare and Delicious Tuber

Chinese Artichoke

Chinese Artichoke: The Rare and Delicious Tuber Chinese Artichoke, also known as Crosne, is a rare and delicious tuber that is native to Asia. This small, knobby vegetable has a sweet, nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. To grow Chinese Artichoke, plant the tubers in well-draining soil in the spring or fall. The plants prefer cool weather and should be watered regularly. Harvest the tubers when they are about the size of a marble and store them in the refrigerator until ready to use. Chinese Artichoke can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in a variety of dishes. Try roasting, frying, or sautéing them for a unique and flavorful side dish.

Malabar Spinach: The Heat-Loving Leafy Green

Malabar Spinach

Malabar Spinach: The Heat-Loving Leafy Green Malabar Spinach is a heat-loving leafy green that is commonly used in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine. This fast-growing vine prefers warm weather and plenty of moisture, making it a great addition to your summer garden. To grow Malabar Spinach, start by planting seeds in well-draining soil in the spring or summer. The plants prefer partial shade and should be watered regularly. Harvest the leaves and stems when they are young and tender, and use them in stir-fries, curries, and soups.

Romanesco Broccoli: The Fractal Vegetable

Romanesco Broccoli

Romanesco Broccoli: The Fractal Vegetableis a visually stunning and unusual vegetable that belongs to the brassica family. It is also known as Romanesco cauliflower or broccoflower. This exotic vegetable originated in Italy and has gained popularity in recent years due to its unique appearance and nutritional benefits. Growing Romanesco broccoli is similar to growing regular broccoli or cauliflower. It thrives in cooler temperatures and can be grown in both spring and fall. The seeds can be started indoors or directly sown into the ground. Romanesco broccoli prefers well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter and requires regular watering.

Sunchoke: The Nutty and Versatile Root Vegetable

Sunchoke

Sunchoke: The Nutty and Versatile Root Vegetable also known as Jerusalem artichoke, is a root vegetable that is not very well-known. However, it is incredibly versatile and has a nutty flavor that is similar to artichokes. Sunchokes are high in potassium, iron, and thiamine, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be roasted, mashed, or pureed to make soup. They can also be pickled or eaten raw in salads.

Tiger Nut: The Ancient and Nutritious Tubers

Tiger Nut

Tiger Nut: The Ancient and Nutritious Tubers are small tubers that are native to Africa and are believed to have been a part of the human diet for over 4,000 years. They are high in fiber, iron, and magnesium, and are a great source of protein. Tiger nuts have a sweet, nutty flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. They can also be used to make a variety of products, including flour, milk, and oil.

Celeriac: The Ugly But Tasty Root Vegetable

Celeriac

Celeriac: The Ugly But Tasty Root Vegetable also known as celery root, is a root vegetable that is not very attractive. It has a knobby, rough exterior that makes it look unappetizing. However, celeriac has a mild, celery-like flavor that is delicious when cooked. It is high in fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. Celeriac can be roasted, mashed, or pureed, and can also be used as a substitute for potatoes in many recipes.

Tomatillo: The Tangy and Versatile Nightshade Vegetable

Tomatillo

Tomatillo: The Tangy and Versatile Nightshade Vegetable are small, green fruits that are similar in appearance to tomatoes, but have a slightly different flavor. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine to make salsa verde, but can also be used in a variety of other dishes. Tomatillos are high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. They can be roasted, boiled, or fried, and can also be eaten raw in salads.

Discover the Top 10 Exotic Vegetables for Culinary Exploration

It is important to keep in mind some common issues that can arise. One of the most common problems with exotic vegetables is pest and disease management. This is especially true for plants that are not native to your region, as they may not have developed natural defenses against local pests and diseases.

Another issue to consider is soil and climate requirements. Exotic vegetables may have specific soil pH or nutrient requirements, and they may not be able to tolerate extreme temperatures or weather conditions. But with a little research and effort, growing exotic vegetables can be a rewarding and delicious experience. So why not try something new and exciting in your garden this season?

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Walter Rodgers

Walter Rodgers

As a Master Gardener Walter Rodgers, has spent his life cultivating his passion for gardening and cooking. Having lived all over the United States, Walter has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in growing a wide range of plants and vegetables, from the arid deserts of the southwest to the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Over the years, he has honed his skills as a gardener and cook, learning new techniques and experimenting with different ingredients to create delicious and healthy meals straight from his garden. Walter is passionate about sharing his knowledge with others and is a sought-after speaker and consultant on all aspects of gardening and cooking.

His unique perspective and expertise make him a valuable resource for anyone looking to start or improve their own garden, whether it's a small plot in the backyard or a large farm.

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