You can grow these weird vegetables and fruits yourself – right at home!
Halloween – the day when freaky becomes fun – is right around the corner. Maybe it’s a bit too late to plant something for the holiday and expect it ready for harvest. But get inspired by the holiday, and plant things that are unusual, unsettling, or just plain weird.
Veggie-Creep Out Your Friends – Some Ideas
Wondering just what to grow? We’ll start with some pointers. Do you like lists? Lists are awesome. Let’s make one!
1. Romanesco Broccoli
One word: fractals.
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Do you remember math class as a kid? Well, let’s make math class fun! Fractals are patterns that repeat ad infinitum – where the entire pattern is repeated in miniature as each of the components.
And that’s exactly what romanesco broccoli is.
Each floret is a replica of the entire plant – in miniature. And so on ad infinitum, or ad-at-least-as-small-as-you-can-see!
- Sun requirements: it needs a slightly shaded location
- Temp. requirements: this is a cool-season crop that does best when daytime temperatures are around 60°F
- Other notes: it needs a lot of water; it’s not a desert plant!
- Days to Maturity: 55 - 65 days
- Planting Depth: ¼” inch deep
- Plant Spacing: 24” apart
- Growth Habit: Up to 2 ½’ tall
- Soil Preference: Well-drained, consistently moist, loamy; pH between 6.5 and 6.8
- Light Preference: Full Sun
- Flavor: Sweet, nutty, crisp
2. Black carrots
They aren’t actually “black” per se, but a deep purple. Either way, it’s still pretty haunting!
Did you know, before the 17th century, actually almost all carrots that were grown were purple? It took the Dutch to develop the orange variety that we know and love today.
(William of Orange anyone? I guess the Dutch couldn’t get enough of that color!)
Dutch growers actually blended the purple and white varieties and came up with the orange thing that many kids today push to the side of their plates and try to hide under their napkins.
But the purple varieties are still around and an easy crop to grow and harvest – essentially the same to grow as the orange ones, but loaded with antioxidants and other goodies!
- Sun requirements: Full sun
- Temp. requirements: This hardy crop can survive as long as the low temperatures are above 20°F!
- Soil requirements: Because the edible part is underground, till your soil to about 16” deep and mix in some compost! Have soil that drains well, but keep it moist.
This highly attractive open-pollinated carrot variety was bred especially for the home gardener. The dark purple roots can be eaten fresh, roasted, steamed, or used for dye.
They are best harvested when the roots are 4 inches or smaller for the best flavor/texture.
3. Okinawan Sweet Potato
We’ve all seen purple potatoes. You cut them open and the flesh is sparkling white – whiter, often, than that of the more common russet variety.
But what if you cut it open, and the inside was purple? Wouldn’t that weird out your guests just a little?
The Okinawan sweet potato isn’t actually from Okinawa (an island in Japan); it’s, like all potatoes, from the Americas. But it arrived in Japan in 1605 and made such a headway there that it picked up the name.
And the best part about growing this bugger? Purple sweet potatoes are loaded with nutritional goodies!
- Sun requirements: Let’s not mince words; sweet potatoes like sun!
- Temp. requirements: Optimal is 70-80°F, though it’s a hardy plant.
- Other notes: Don’t crowd it, please.
It fetches quite a price at the supermarket – sometimes up to $10/pound. But did you know you can actually grow this Central American oddity in your own garden?
There are the usual varieties that are white inside, and others that are blood red. It’s full of black seeds that look like tiny bugs. And best of all, rather than rot your kids’ teeth out, it’ll fill them up with antioxidants and all kinds of goodies!
That’s right – it’s the perfect Halloween treat. And be sure to serve it in the peel. That’s the creepy part!
- Sun requirements: A lotta sun
- Temp. requirements: 65-80°F is ideal, but it can survive up to 100°F; frost will kill over time but it can recover from a single cold night
- Other notes: give it space!
As you might guess from the name, this fruit can literally be quite hard to swallow! But if for nothing other than the weird, long, wavy skin like crumpled cardboard, bittermelon is worth growing.
A bittermelon looks like a long, big, splotchy, and quite diseased cucumber – but if it’s prepared correctly (sometimes with ample brown sugar) it can be a great addition to your Halloween feast.
It’s very popular in Indian and Pakistani cuisine – so branch out your palette and give it a try.
- Sun requirements: at least 6 hours/day
- Temp. requirements: warm: 75-80°F
- Other notes: each plant’ll give you 10-12 of them!
Momordica charantia. Non-GMO seeds by MySeeds.Co (100 big pack)
6. Fiddlehead Ferns
Maybe you’re thinking: ferns? People actually eat ferns?
Yes – and it’s becoming quite hip to do so. So join the trend – and weird out your dinner guests along the way!
You want to harvest the “fiddleheads” (when they look like the head of a fiddle): before they’ve unwound and become bitter. Then boil them and serve them with extra virgin olive oil or butter. Check out this yummy roasted fiddlehead ferns recipe!
One thing to take note of: fiddlehead ferns are actually poisonous before you cook them, due to the presence of a compound called shikimic acid. So boil them well!
- Sun requirements: This is a shade crop. Just think: where do you see ferns on the trailside?
- Temp. requirements: 60-70°F is best, though ferns are fairly hardy little buggers
- Soil requirements: well-draining soil is best, mixed with compost, and moisture is a must
7. Black Tomatoes
Maybe you weren’t too surprised by black carrots; most people in the USA have seen them in the produce aisle of health food stores. But tomatoes?
There’s a tomato cultivar that’ll freak out your friends – Black Krim, which makes its way to us from the island of Krim in the (appropriately-named) Black Sea in Eastern Europe.
In terms of growing, it’s an heirloom tomato, so the same advice applies to growing any sort of heirloom. Heirlooms are more finicky than commercial varieties, but the Black Krim will reward you with its unique, “smoky” flavor.
- Sun requirements: a minimum of 8 hours/day, though they love basking in much more!
- Temp. requirements: night temperatures must be at least 60°F before you start growing them
- Soil requirements: rich and loamy that allows the roots to penetrate deep
8. Snake Beans
Doesn’t the name of this veggie just make you want to grow it?
Also known as “yardlong beans,” the beans are similar to green beans – but sometimes up to two feet in length! They’re very popular in Asian cuisine, but you can use them pretty much anywhere you’d use a green bean.
Though you might want to serve them whole, stir-fried in something dark like soy sauce, and tell your friends that you’ve made them worms!
- Sun requirements: full sun, please
- Temp. requirements: these plants love heat; and are completely intolerant of frost
- Soil requirements: not much – they’re very hardy!
9. Horned Melon
Also known as a Kiwano melon, these are about the size of a mango, full of radioactive-green jellied seeds, and look like orange, spike-covered alien fruits from Mars.
Actually, they’re from South Africa. But they grow well in the USA too!
- Sun requirements: full sun
- Temp. requirements: over 60°F
- Soil requirements: fertilize well
You might not even have to grow this unusual plant. It grows in salty conditions, and close to the ocean or saline lakes. In many parts of the world, it’s just an ordinary seaside plant!
If you want to plant it, do so in a smaller container that will keep the soil moist. When you water samphire, you want to include some sea salt (not table salt) – one teaspoon per pint of water.
So, what do you do with it?
Harvest it before it flowers – either when it’s a deep, emerald green, or when it turns red just before it flowers if you like it saltier.
Remove the roots and tough stems. And then stir-fry with oil or butter!
- Sun requirements: Samphire likes sun – so full sun, please.
- Temp. requirements: Germinate the seeds at 77°F (25°C) but once it’s established, it’s quite hardy.
- Soil requirements: Sandy, but you don’t actually want to plant it in soil that’s overly salty.
Culinary medicinal herbs seeds in frozen seed capsules for the home gardener and rare seeds collector. You can plant them now, or save them for years.
11. Banana Squash
This gourd is remarkable for one main reason which is evident the moment you set eyes on it: its size.
If you have a kid less than ten years old or so, odds are it’s taller than they are. And it’s full of yummy pink flesh with a taste similar to butternut. (Though one banana squash yields the fruit of perhaps fifty or more butternut squashes!)
The seeds are tough and difficult to eat if you roast them, but all of the flesh is edible. Once opened, store it in the fridge if you have room for it.
It’s definitely meant to serve a household and not just one person. (You’ll probably want some tips on how to cook his behemoth.)
Why a “banana” squash? Maybe it looks like a banana from a distance – but when you get up close, maybe “battering ram squash” would be more appropriate!
- Sun requirements: full sun, at least 6 hours/day
- Temp. requirements: you want the soil at 60°F when you plant it, with air temperatures above 50°F.
- Soil requirements: keep it moist
12. Peter Pepper
Maybe this one isn’t so scary, but it’s naughty in another way.
If you have kids, now’s the time to take them out of the garden! Because, if you didn’t know, “Peter” is last-century slang for… well, look at the letters it starts with!
Sure enough, the Peter pepper (or the “hot penis pepper”) delivers what its name promises. Including the “hot” part – it packs the punch of a jalapeño!
If you want it even hotter, hold off on watering until it’s looking wilted.
- Sun requirements: full sun
- Temp. requirements: 60-90°F
- Soil requirements: well-drained and fertile
True Leaf Market has more than 110 different varieties of pepper seeds, starting as low as $2.99 a packet.
From crazy hot to sweet to everything in between, you'll find a pepper that suits you and your garden!
13. Sunchoke / Jerusalem Artichoke
This tuber is weird-looking but delicious when prepared well – roasted, stir-fried, or mixed into other recipes.
Despite the name, it’s actually native to North America. Which means, if you’re in the USA, you’re reseeding the soil with native plants that’ll grow nicely!
In fact, it needs almost no care to produce a crop!
Also known by several other names, such as “Jerusalem artichoke” and “fartichoke.” So, as you may imagine, it has a reputation for causing some flatulence.
A reputation that isn’t baseless: they contain inulin, which is broken down in the colon into… yes, a gas.
- Sun requirements: as the name suggests, it loves the sun, so bring it on
- Temp. requirements: 65-90°F
- Soil requirements: they prefer to be planted somewhere with loose and sandy soil so that the tubers can expand
Also known as Sunchoke or Sunroot.
Now Let the Weirdness Begin!
Those are just a few ideas of some of the more unusual things you can grow in your garden.
Let’s list them all one more time:
Weird Vegetables Top 13
Yes, they take different amounts of time, and grow in different climatic conditions – so you may not be able to cultivate them all at once! No worries.
Any one of these can make people’s eyes pop – and make a fun and delicious addition to your holiday feast. Whatever the holiday.
Take inspiration from Halloween, and get freaky!