Growing your own fruits and vegetables comes with many benefits, from saving money and getting the freshest produce possible to getting exercise in the garden, and being able to choose from an incredibly vast selection of different varieties that you’d likely never see in your local grocery store.

With all of those choices, why not have some fun and grow some more unusual fruits and veggies, it’s a great way to try some new flavors and flood your body with nutrients at the same time.

Dragon fruit

While this fruit definitely has a cool name, you have to stretch your imagination a bit to picture an actual dragon. Either way, it’s definitely an unusual one, with a red skin that projects out like fish fins, or dragon scales, hence its name. Inside, is a creamy white flesh somewhat akin to a kiwi, dotted with tiny, crunchy black seeds. While it isn’t common in the Western world and is mostly seen growing in Asia, it is becoming increasing popular, with some commercial farms starting to pop up among the more traditional crops.

Dragon fruit tastes a bit like a melon, with the texture and tiny seeds similar to kiwis. Just like kiwi, you won’t really notice the seeds when eating the pulp, in fact, when you bite down on a few it actually releases a slight tangy flavor that enhances the taste. It’s best eaten slightly chilled, and then cut in half and the pulp scooped out with a spoon. It offers lots of nutrients, including vitamin C, cancer-fighting antioxidants and a good level of fiber.

This unusual fruit can be grown just about anywhere in the world, though it does best in a warm climate with mild winters. While it’s fairly drought tolerant, it does appreciate regular watering and well-drained soil.

Alpine Strawberries

Alpine strawberries sometimes referred to as mountain strawberries, don’t really resemble the plump modern garden strawberry. They’re actually prettier, with small white flowers and fruit held high, often above the leaves. While they are tiny, they really pack a punch when it comes to juiciness and flavor, with a depth that those modern varieties can’t compete with.

Alpine strawberries make an excellent groundcover – you can even let them run rampant, and they’ll help suppress the weeds while protecting the soil from erosion too. They also grow well in containers and would make a wonderful edible plant for a patio garden too. The fruit prefers a loose, slightly acidic soil and full sun for the best quality, though they will tolerate a variety of soil conditions, provided they have adequate drainage.

Japanese wineberries

If you’re looking to fill that lull in August between the peak of summer and fall raspberry harvests, Japanese wineberries are ideal. They grow similar to blackberries and are gorgeous all year long with their long, arching red-purple canes, but are especially attractive in the winter after the leaves have dropped.

Japanese wineberries have a deeper, wine-like flavor, as compared to raspberries, for a perfect sharp-sweet balance. Plant in well-drained but fertile soil, preferably in a sheltered area, like against a sunny wall, which tends to produce the best fruit. Just like the raspberry, it is biennial, meaning the canes grow one year and fruit the next.

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