Growing your own fruits and vegetables has many benefits, from saving money and getting the freshest produce possible to exercising in the garden, and being able to choose from an incredibly wide variety of different varieties that you will probably never see in your locality.
Rare and delicious fruits and vegetables you can grow at home
With all the options that nature gives us, why not have fun and grow some more unusual fruits and vegetables? It's a great way to try new flavors and flood your body with nutrients at the same time.
Pitaya or Dragon Fruit
For an exotic fruit and vegetable garden, the pitaya should definitely not be missing. While this fruit definitely has a cool name, you have to stretch your imagination a bit to imagine a real dragon. Either way, it is definitely unusual, with red skin that sticks out like fish fins or dragon scales, hence its name. Inside, it's a creamy white flesh somewhat similar to a kiwi, sprinkled with tiny crisp black seeds. While it is not common in the western world and is mostly seen growing in Asia, it is becoming increasingly popular, with some commercial farms starting to appear among the more traditional crops.
Dragon fruit tastes a bit like a melon, with the texture and small seeds similar to kiwis. Like kiwi, you won't really notice the seeds when you eat the pulp, in fact, when you bite into a few, it actually releases a slightly acidic flavor that enhances the flavor. It is better to eat it a little cold, and then cut it in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. It offers many nutrients, including vitamin C, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and a good level of fiber.
This unusual fruit can be grown anywhere in the world, although it does best in a warm climate with mild winters. While it is fairly drought tolerant, it appreciates regular watering and well-drained soil.
Alpine strawberries, sometimes referred to as mountain strawberries, don't really look like the chubby modern garden strawberry. They are actually prettier, with small white flowers and fruit set high, often above the leaves. While they are small, they really pack a punch when it comes to juiciness and flavor, with a depth that those modern strains can't compete with.
Alpine strawberries are an excellent ground cover, you can even let them run wild and they will help you to eliminate weeds while protecting the soil from erosion. They also grow well in containers and would also make a wonderful edible plant for a backyard garden. The fruit prefers loose, slightly acidic soil and full sun for the best quality, although it will tolerate a variety of soil conditions, provided they have adequate drainage.
If you are looking to fill that calm in August between peak summer and fall of raspberry harvests, Japanese wineries are ideal. They grow similar to blackberries and are beautiful year-round with their long, arching purple-red canes, but they are especially attractive in the winter after the leaves have fallen.
Japanese cherries have a deeper, wine-like flavor compared to raspberries, for a perfect sweet and sharp balance. Plant it in well-drained but fertile soil, preferably in a sheltered area, such as against a sunny wall, which tends to produce the best fruit. Like the raspberry, it is biennial, that is, the canes grow one year and bear fruit the next.
If you are looking for fruits and vegetables for your exotic collection in your garden, karela is a bumpy green pumpkin that you will definitely like for its rarity. It is also known as bitter gourd, which provides a clue to its flavor, although many people cook it with brown sugar to help balance the bitterness. Some prefer the sour quality, especially when paired with Pakistani dishes such as goat and lamb. It is also commonly used in Chinese cuisine.
Karela is an exceptional source of vitamin C and calcium, and it is also said to help lower blood glucose levels in diabetics. It's also easy to grow, and very low-maintenance as long as you have well-drained soil and a sunny spot in your garden that gets a good amount of sunlight during the day. Although it is a warm climate crop, karela can be grown throughout the year as long as it is not exposed to extreme cold conditions.
Rainbow carrots look like something you might see in a Dr. Seuss book, but surprisingly, they are very real. Most people are unaware that carrots were originally white and sometimes purple in color, so it's not really that strange, but it's a spectacular way to add a lot of color to your garden.
Rainbow carrots come in purple, orange, yellow, white, and red, and the seed packets are generally a mix of all of them. The taste is pretty much the same, but their visual interest makes them worth planting, and their health benefits vary a bit too.
Cucamelons are like a mini-watermelon. They are adorable little fruits that also bear the name "Mexican bitter gherkin" or sometimes "mouse melon," which is the translation of its Spanish name, "sandiita." They are the size of a grape, and taste like cucumbers and lime.
This sour fruit that grows on a thin vine has been eaten since pre-Columbian times and is a staple in Mexican diets, rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Cucamelons need a frost-free climate and soil temperatures of between 24-30 degrees Celsius to bear fruit, but if you live in a cooler area, you can grow them in pots and move them to a warm, bright room when the night temperature drops to 10 degrees.
For fruits and vegetables without waste, nothing like the nopal
The nopal cactus, also known as nopal, is native to Mexico and parts of the southwestern United States. It has been a staple part of Tex-Mex and Mexican cuisine for years, but few people outside of those regions have heard of it. The nopal cactus flower is one of its best attributes, with the showy blooming creating a magnificent spectacle in the garden.
The fruit contains two edible parts: the pad, or nopal, of the cactus which is often treated as a vegetable, and the pear or fruit. They are easy to grow from the pads and take root almost anywhere, growing with little to no care. They are extremely drought tolerant, which is why they are so common in desert areas, although you will need to be careful to place them in a safe place so their sharp spines do not cause injury. In recent years, science has shown that cactus is a powerful superfood, rich in antioxidants, and also offers cholesterol-lowering properties. The nopal is one of the fruits and vegetables that should not be missing in your garden, since it offers you both in one, it has no waste!
Kohlrabi is a strange vegetable, similar to an alien, but it tastes surprisingly sweet and can be roasted or eaten raw and sliced like an apple. Although it is a member of the cabbage family, it is easier to grow than cabbage. It offers a ton of nutrients, including lots of fiber and vitamin C.
The plant performs best when it receives six hours of sunshine a day and an even supply of moisture. The fast-growing, cold-weather harvest will get your plants ready for harvest just a few weeks after planting. When the swollen stem of the plant is the size of a tennis ball, you'll know it's time to harvest. In the meantime, you will have some very interesting plants in your garden.
Jicama originated in Mexico but slowly began to appear on menus in the US This tuberous root vegetable is delicious when sliced raw in salads or, as in Mexico, marinated in lemon and other spices like chili powder and served as a condiment. Jicamas are rich in vitamin C and also contain a good amount of fiber.
Generally sown from seed, this plant does best in warm climates that receive a moderate amount of rain and do not do well with frost. Keep in mind that the jicama root is edible, but the leaves, stems, pods, and seeds are toxic and must be discarded.
When you're looking for fruits and vegetables that will bring your garden to life, don't hesitate to integrate purple peas. Inside, purple pod peas look just like any other - green. But on the outside, they have a beautiful aubergine color that looks stunning on the vine. Since the color makes the pods stand out, they are also much easier to harvest. The pods are mainly in pairs and, as they mature, they turn green. The long flower stalks mean that the pods are kept away from the foliage, making a magnificent display of long purple pods. Taste-wise, they are the same as common peas.
Planting them so they get partial sun will ensure your plants thrive, you will also need to remember to water frequently. Since they are incredibly easy to grow in a variety of conditions, this unusual plant is ideal for beginning gardeners and those who like low-maintenance gardens. Like other types of peas, purple peas are high in protein, with each half cup providing as much as one egg. They are also high in fiber and contain a small amount of iron and calcium.
Lufa, also known as crested gourd, has a pretty apt name - it's popular with hippies and other folks who enjoy a life back to nature, who like to use it as a back cleanser or as a sponge. When it is young and tender, its flavor is similar to that of zucchini. As it ages and becomes woody, the meat melts and leaves an abrasive skeleton. Lufa squashes are grown primarily for their fibrous tissue skeleton to use as a sponge, but those young fruits can be cooked and eaten like a squash or substituted for cucumber in a salad. Loofah is commonly used in Chinese and Indian cuisine.
The fruit contains a wide variety of nutrients, including a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, and is a particularly good source of vitamin A. Loofahs are a very vigorous plant, with vines reaching a length of 15 feet or more. They are an excellent summer screening plant as they will thoroughly cover every inch of fencing available to them. You will need to grow them on a tall, sturdy trellis or fence that is at least five to six feet tall. Without a trellis, those vines can quickly invade your garden. When the pumpkins are ripe, the skins will dry out while the stems will begin to turn yellow.
Low blood sugar occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in your blood drops below what your body needs. Not eating enough food or skipping meals, taking too much medicine (insulin or pills), exercising more than usual, or taking certain medicines that lower blood sugar can cause your blood sugar to drop rapidly. Do not drink alcohol if you have problems recognizing the early signs of low blood sugar.