What unusual vegetables should I grow that I've never heard of?


I’m growing Babington leek, a nice perennial vegetable, good in cool weather. It has a similar growth habit to my Egyptian walking onion, but the leaves are flat like a leek, not round like an onion, and it dies back to the ground in summer. I’ll have lots of bulbils to distribute in a few weeks. Then again, I’m already behind on mailing out maypops I promised to a couple of people.


I love my egyptian onions, chives, and garlic chives. We cut and roast armfuls of green onions in spring from the egyptians. Chop to fit on cookie sheets, coat with olive oil and some salt, then roast at 300F in the oven until crispy. You can easily eat a huge amount of delicious green onions that way. Plus the egyptians look so cool when they start sprouting their weird growth from the topset bulblets.

Chives are super easy to grow and look great all year. They make nice purple flowers, don’t get too tall, and are great to eat. I just made a jar of chive kimchi last month from a big pile of chives and it was excellent. A big pile on top of home made pizza or in an omlet is also good. Garlic chives are somewhat more succulent than chives, but I don’t think the flowers are as pretty and some people have trouble with them being weedy. They make good kimchi too either by themselves or with other veg.

Finally: Horseradish. Even if you don’t like the root, grow it for perennial greens. It is very hard to kill, even if you cut the leaves to the ground every couple weeks. Looks cool, easy to grow. And if you want some root, just pull some up; you can be sure more will grow up where you took it out from leftover root fragments. The greens get more mild when cooked. I cut out the center vein of the leaves, like with kale. All things being equal I’d probably rather eat kale, but it doesn’t grow itself like the horseradish does. In the pic below on the right behind my kids is a horseradish last fall, under my apple tree trellis. I cut it all the time so it doesn’t get too tall.

These perennial veggies are great because you can eat them so early in the season, before the annual stuff has got going.


Houttuynia cordata is awesome. There really are 2 different types. The one I have smells exactly like fish. The one my neighbor has smells more citrusy. I really like them both. Search Zhe ergen or Yuxingcao for some interesting information about its use in China.


I know many people here grow goji berry。 do you know its leaves are edible too。throw them in soup,or cook like spinach


nice kids!


always nice to see young ones helping out in the garden :seedling:


I love Egyptian onions as well, but mostly just use them as one does green onions or even chives. Once established they just need to be weeded out a bit but keep coming.

Another favorite is perennial arugula. It is somewhat invasive, but if you love a strong flavored arugula it is the ticket- seems to be the Italian definition of the vegetable judging from Italian reactions I’ve gotten, the standard American instant bolting variety is too weak for them. Once established it keeps coming back with a vengeance, providing leaves from spring through fall.

Also, Pinetree garden seeds carries a summer lettuce that goes on and on, providing pretty good leaf lettuce through summer. It flowers but keeps on producing tender, not bitter leaves.


I’m trying this for the first time this year.

Another summer “spinach” is New Zealand Spinach. It goes from spring to frost.


If you can identify your weeds and know which are edible, you can eat them. I eat them every day. I’ve even imported weeds into my yard so I can harvest them regularly. It’s amazing! They grow like weeds! Much cheaper than organic vegies from the store.

Many, such as dandelion, were brought to this country as vegetables, and then people decided that another vegetable was more fashionable so they forgot about it.

The best book I’ve seen on this topic is “Edible Wild Plants” by John Kallas. Excellent ID photos and procedures.

My most common ones to eat are dandelion, false dandelion, nipplewort, goose grass, sow thistle, spiny sow thistle, shotweed/bitter cress, marsh mallow (there are many, many mallows), and ones that have gone feral like Earth chestnut, scorzonera, leeks, campanula, Alexander’s, and leaves of Oregon grape, Bay laurel, hawthorn, and goji.
JohN S


Holly, it is always hard to wait for my first spring chives. On Sunday mornings I’ll make ‘green’ scrambled eggs. Eggs loaded with finely chopped chives, oh so good! With toast and homemade jam!


some of my friends are eating this seasonal flower from big tree as a veggies dish. I wish I could find a tree to try


Great thread!

I was talking with my yard helper guy today, he’s from Mexico. I pointed to my big yucca plants and he said they eat the flowers on those. I’ll have to try some when it flowers in a few weeks.


Robinia pseudoacacia? Does that grow as far north as northern Illinois? I’ve read about doing something like that with elderberry flowers but haven’t ever tried it.


Those flowers look like they belong to the Sesbania genus.

The one I grew up with and ate is commonly called Riverhemp. It has beautiful edible yellow flowers, looks very similar to the white ones you posted.


I think it is Japanese pagoda tree flower or black locust tree flower, which should be popular in north , both flowers are edible and delicious


Very interesting. How do you prepare the flowers?


People use the flowers like a vegetable. They stir-fry them or batter and deep fry or eat them fresh with chilli dip.

My sister makes dessert using them. She mixes them with rice flour, steam the mixture for a while, then add shredded coconut and sugar. It is upcountry cooking. You won’t find it in a big city :grinning:


That sounds sooo good!!!


some similarity of cooking japanese pagodas /black locust flowers. Batter it, steam it, but never made it into a dessert, sounds yummy though


This year, I try to grow ice lettuce, a green grow in Africa I believe? I had it as salad, little drop of ice on the leaves booked very fresh, and it tasted a little salty flavor