Why wait for trips to the market to marvel over oddities like dragonfruit and kumquat? Many unusual (and just plain weird-looking) fruits and veggies can be grown in your backyard. Here are some conversation-starting crops and where you can buy their seeds:
Cucamelon: As its name implies, this diminutive fruit (also called mouse melon) is a sort of cross between a cucumber and a melon. Its white flesh is crisp, crunchy and slightly tart. Cucamelon is a low-maintenance, easy to grow plant that produces quite a lot of cute little fruit. These “mouse melons” can be be pickled, stir-fried, or even eaten raw.
Dragonfruit: This sweet and scaly fruit is about as weird-looking as it gets. Native to Mexico and Central and South America, the dragonfruit plant (pitaya) is part of the cactus family and grows best in tropical or subtropical climates. The fruit can be pink, red or yellow, and its red or white flesh, dotted with small black seeds is almost as strange-looking as its scaly exterior. But is said to be an ultra-nutritious “superfood.”
Black Radish: Like something out of a Halloween display, the black Spanish radish looks just like the name implies. With a tough flesh and strong radish flavor, this variety is sure to please serious radish-lovers but might scare away those with milder palates.
Kiwano Melon aka Jelly Melon: These spiny, bright-colored fruits look a little like a spiky orange or yellow potato — but with a pulpy green or yellow flesh. The flavor is sweet and tart, with a tropical citrus tang. The plant is native to Africa, but the hardy fruit can be grown in other warm climates as well.
Broccoli Romanesco: Is it a science experiment gone wrong? A green brain? Called “broccoli from another planet,” by The New York Times, broccoli Romanesco looks a little like a cactus, with tight clusters of bright-green cone-shaped heads. The taste is said to be milder than regular broccoli, with a delicious nuttiness. They aren’t easy to find at the supermarket, so why not try growing your own?