3 images: Cooked Romanesco on a square black plate with chopsticks on a wooden table; yard long beans growing in a garden; and cucmelons in a salad with radishes adn yellow tomatoes in a black bowl, on a black table with a bowl of spinach nearby and ingredients on the table

Try Something New with These Unusual Veggies

One of the best parts of gardening is that you can make it all your own since you can plant exactly what you want, whether that’s veggies or flowers or succulents. Plus, for your edible plants, you’re not limited to the usual offerings that you’d find in the produce aisle. As you start preparing for your cool-season garden or begin thinking ahead to next summer, consider growing some of these rare vegetables!


Unusual Vegetables to Grow in Arizona

When planning your vegetable garden, it’s important to consider what you and your family like to eat. But by throwing in an uncommon veggie or two, you might just find a new favorite!

cucamelon summerwinds arizona

Cucamelon

These grape-sized fruits are as delicious as they are adorable. Cucamelons taste like cucumbers but have a touch of sourness. Also called Mexican Sour Gherkins or Mouse Melons, Cucamelons are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, and they are incredibly versatile. Use them in salads, as a garnish, or even pickled. Plant them during spring from March to April, and they’ll be ready in 65 to 75 days.


kohlrabi summerwinds arizona

Kohlrabi

A relative of cabbage, Kohlrabi looks sort of otherworldly. It has a bulbous stem that’s greenish-white or purple with long, leafy greens emerging from it. While some people say this veggie resembles an alien, it really is a delicious addition to your garden. Kohlrabi tastes like a mix between cabbage and broccoli stems but sweeter, though it really has a taste all of its own.

Harvest the swollen stem when it’s about the size of a tennis ball, and eat it raw or cooked. You can also use the greens as you would kale or spinach. Plant seeds from August through November and the veggies will be ready within two months.


malabar spinach summerwinds arizona

Malabar Spinach

This climbing variety of spinach has red or green stems and green leaves, which are great in salads or stir-fried. Malabar Spinach isn’t actually related to true spinach—it’s a semi-succulent vine and loves our summer heat. Plant it from March to May, and you can start harvesting when the vine has at least 10 leaves.


okra summerwinds arizona

Okra

Native to Africa, Okra is a healthy and delicious addition to your Arizona summer garden. This plant has big, beautiful flowers, and that’s where the edible seed pods emerge from. Enjoy Okra pickled, fried, grilled, or in gumbo. You can also eat the greens as you would spinach, plus the flowers are edible too. Start planting Okra in March until May. The crop takes between 70 and 100 days to be ready for harvesting. 


romanesco summerwinds arizona

Romanesco

Related to cauliflower, Romanesco produces lime green heads with small horn-like florets that form a twirling pattern, sort of resembling a conch shell. It tastes similar to cauliflower but has a nuttier flavor. Use it in recipes as you would cauliflower—raw, steamed, roasted, or however else you like it. Plant this cool-season vegetable in late October through February, and it will be ready to harvest in about 100 days.


yard long beans summerwinds arizona

Yard Long Beans

Yes, these beans really do grow up to three feet long! As a crop from Asia, Yard Long Beans can handle—and enjoy—our hot Arizona summers. While regular green beans taste great boiled or steamed, Yard Long Beans are best when sauteed or stir-fried. Plant them from mid-March through mid-July for a crop ready in 60 to 90 days.

These uncommon veggies will start many conversations around the dinner table, and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite crop! While planting them may be outside of your comfort zone, the payoff is worth it, since you’ll have so much fun watching these unusual vegetables grow!

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