Scary vegetables for Halloween! Most people want their vegetable gardens to feel bright, warm, and welcoming. To have that rustic and chic feeling that comes from a lifestyle in tune with nature. The same goes for our dinner tables, right?
However, do you agree there is a time of the year when things turn eerie?
A time when we want to summon some weirdness and friendly darkness into the corners of our Eden gardens?
You’ve guessed it – that time is Halloween time!
Now, adding spooky decorations around the yard is a golden standard. But what if you could grow your Halloween decor – and eat it later?
If you want to take this road less traveled, peek into my list of weird and scary looking-produce you could grow in your veggie garden.
If you don’t get spooked easily, that is.
5 Scary Vegetables for Halloween to Grow at Home
Here are some scary vegetables for Halloween that top our list!
1. Ornamental Gourd
Ornamental gourds – or decorative gourds (varieties of Cucurbita pepo) are a cousin of the Halloween pumpkin. Ornamental gourds are also smaller and weirder than pumpkins. And they have many hidden creative talents perfect for fall decor.
Although I can hardly imagine all the genetic mechanisms that create the various qualities of ornamental ground varieties, I bet those molecules are artistically inclined! Due to a wide array of shapes, colors, and patterns, decorative gourds are a favorite fall decor.
But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So ornamental gourd fruits can be considered truly pretty, eerie, or both.
As their name suggests, ornamental gourds are very showy. However, on the other hand, many cultivars and individual specimens feature bizarre shapes, asymmetries, and series of blobs that can make them look like a creepy monster version of your regular summer squash.
Naturally, this duality makes decorative gourds perfect scary vegetables for Halloween.
Ornamental gourds share their needs and seasonal rhythm with winter squash. Plant the seeds in full sun after the last frost has passed and the soil has warmed a bit. They require well-draining, pH-neutral soil rich in organic matter. Let your gourd vines climb on a trellis or other support. Leave the fruits hanging for an extra-spooky effect.
If you get turned off by the idea of using produce for decoration only and then throwing it away, a question like, can you eat an ornamental gourd may arise in your mind.
While decorative gourds are tougher-to-chew and more bitter than their traditionally edible cousins, some can still make decent culinary material. The younger, softer Turk’s Turban squash is said to be succulent for soups.
Seeds of nearly all gourds can be used – in the same way as pumpkin seeds, and sun-dried gourds can be used to spice up winter soups and other cooked meals.
PS – Don’t forget to store your pumpkin seeds for planting next year. They’re also our favorite vegetable seeds for baking and snacking!
(Also – we invite you to try this yummy-looking muenster grits and pumpkin recipe.)
2. Purple Sweet Potato
Purple is one of the infamous Halloween colors. The origins of its Halloween title are not entirely clear, but it is a color associated with spirituality, magic, and witchcraft. Also, deep purple is one of the few colors cherished by the goth community, so we can consider it a fully-approved spookshow hue.
Now imagine something as cool as a purple sweet potato. Well, you don’t need to imagine – because it exists!
If you get your hands on a purple sweet potato or dig it out of the ground, you may get disappointed with the pinkish-purple hue that doesn’t seem very exotic.
However, the good news is that the flesh of this variety of sweet potatoes will get intense purple once you bake it. The purple color makes it a great contender for scary vegetables for Halloween!
You can roast the entire fork-poked root for the deep-purple effect. Or you can slice it appropriately and bake it to make nutritious deep-bloody-red-to-purplish sweet potato chips or French fries for Halloween night.
All purple sweet potato varieties prefer warm conditions, sunlight, plenty of water, and rich soil. If you are planning on growing them in your garden, do some research on the available cultivars. For example, Okinawans, the original purple sweet potato, are more sensitive to colder climates and weather changes than the US-adapted Stokes Purple.
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3. Kiwano Melon
Kiwano doesn’t seem like a vegetable or a fruit – instead, it looks like an alien space egg. Its vividly colored honored exterior doesn’t make it the most inviting-looking food. Fortunately, the taste is not alien nor hostile – the edible jelly green interior brings a mix of familiar flavors and textures comparable to banana, lime, and cucumber.
Kiwano, also known as horned melon, or jelly melon, is commercially grown in Southern US (most notably California), South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
These locations can tell you something about the cucumber-like vine’s climatic preferences – Kiwano is native to hot and arid areas of central and south Africa. It is suitable for growing in USDA zones ten and above.
The Kiwano vine prefers full sunlight and well-draining, slightly acidic soil enriched with compost or manure. Plant the seeds directly in the ground after the last frost has passed, with temperatures above 54 Fahrenheit (12 Celsius).
It truly belongs on the list of scary vegetables for Halloween!
4. Prickly Pear
Is there a weirder and scarier idea in the culinary world than eating (brace yourself) a cactus? Not just the fruit, but – that could be considered acceptable – but the entire thing?
You may be surprised to learn that both fruits and the pads of the prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.) are entirely edible, and only the prickly pear pads are considered veggies. When cooked, the pear greens taste similar to green beans and have an okra-like texture.
Growing prickly pears at home is easy, as these cacti are incredibly resilient. Their comfort (hardiness) zone is USDA 9 to 11. You can grow Opuntias in containers and then move them indoors or to another sheltered area once the winter sets in and the frosts threaten the plants.
As you may suppose, you will need to be very careful when picking (cutting off) the pads and take care to remove all of the spines and the glochids – those bumps they appear from – as soon as possible. There are several ways to remove the spines. Whatever method you choose, always wear thick protective gloves as the spines irritate the skin. Big time!
Are you in for some Halloween vampire drama? The good ole’ garlic might not be particularly scary by its looks. Still, it has so many folklore associations with the supernatural that it can justifiably be a part of your Halloween decoration.
Garlic is one of the well-known remedies to use against vampires. There is an interesting theory that this belief originated when rabies significantly impacted the human population. People infected with rabies – known to bare their teeth, act out, and even bite other humans – have intense adversity towards pungent scents – including the (in)famous smell of garlic.
Garlic requires a long growing season. You can plant in the late autumn or early winter directly into the well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny spot. Note that there are cultivars for planting in the early spring as well. When you complete the harvest, you can make fabulous garlic braids that are not only decorative but also a convenient way to store your garlic bulbs.
One way to make garlic even more Halloween-worthy is to make black garlic. Yes, you’ve read it well – with the help of heat, time, and patience, you can turn the glossy white insides of garlic into deep dark brown or charcoal black – a perfect addition to a Halloween dinner table!
To Take Away – (But Not Scare Away!)
I have dropped a few ideas and details on how to grow these beautiful, unlikely garden items. Strange as it may sound, the list of scary vegetables and fruits could be much longer.
However, you can always do your research with just a few simple keywords. The central message of this article is to think outside the box when choosing plants for your garden. I hope I have inspired you to do just that.
Halloween is, of course, always the perfect excuse to get weird!
And I promise all the pre-planning and effort you’ll invest in caring for these spooky veggies will be worth it once you harvest the unique home-grown Halloween decorations and snacks. Because trick-or-treating just leveled up!
Also – did we miss any spooky fruits or scary vegetables?
Let us know!
Thanks again for reading.
Have a great day!