Garden Experts Share Their Favorite Unusual Vegetable Varieties

Six garden experts share the names of their favorite unusual vegetable varieties you can grow from seed at home.

| January/February 1988

An old Japanese saying claims that every time you eat a new food you add 70 days to your life. OK, then what might you get if you grow a totally new food? These pro gardeners have an eye-opening list of vegetable varieties to try. 

Garden Experts Share Their Favorite Unusual Vegetable Varieties

That's the fun part — you never really know what you're going to get. Raising new vegetable varieties is like opening a surprise package. You can't predict beforehand what special grace it will bring to your garden or what distinctive taste to your table. And the suspense is delightfully prolonged during the weeks and months it takes the maturing novelty to "unwrap" itself.

Unfortunately, sometimes novelty is a new vegetable's only virtue. It may be difficult to grow, not much to look at and awful to eat. So to help you choose the seed packages that will provide the most pleasurable surprises, we've asked a group of adventurous gardeners to describe some of their favorite "unusual" vegetable varieties — the ones that have won permanent places in their gardens and hearts. Just reading over their lists and comments has reawakened the gardening fever in our winter-locked spirits. We bet that, after you savor these tantalizing descriptions, you too will start filling out seed orders for crops you never knew existed.

By the way, for complete information on how to raise and use these, and many other, novel crops, watch your newsstand for the February issue of our ongoing series of special publications. The entire issue is devoted to a home gardener's encyclopedia of over 50 unusual vegetable varieties.

One more thing: The addresses for the seed companies mentioned here are listed in "Mother's 1988 Seed Company Wishbook Guide".

Kent Whealy

Whealy is the director of the Seed Saver's Exchange, a nationwide group of gardeners dedicated to sharing and maintaining "endangered" vegetable varieties. The SSE is keeping alive thousands of family heirlooms, traditional ethnic crops and outstanding standard (nonhybrid) varieties, many of which have been ignored or dropped by commercial seed companies.

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