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Growing Unusual Fruits and Vegetables from the Grocery Store

By Bubbles
December 15, 2011

Have you ever wandered through a grocery produce section and wondered how some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables are grown and how they should be prepared? I recently roamed the aisles of a local grocery that caters to our city's growing international transplants. I had never seen so many root vegetables that were unknown to me. My husband wasn't along and therefore could not be embarrassed by his wife, so I asked permission to photograph some of the produce with my phone. The produce manager smiled and said, "People do it all the time."

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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Dec 15, 2011 5:08 AM CST
I enjoyed this, Sandi. It's one of my favorite things to do. Well, more so when I lived in CA, but I still do it here. I'm going to grow the top of a pineapple this year after I'm done using it as a decoration on the table (in the molcajete). Last year I did something I haven't done in years ... stuck 3 toothpicks in an avocado pit and suspended it in a small jar of water in the kitchen window. I didn't keep the tree after this summer since they trees aren't cold-hardy. But I'll do it again when the urge strikes. Green Grin!
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 5:48 AM CST
Tee, I grew a pineapple for nearly a year. Realized it wouldn't flower for another year, so I gave it away. Never learned if it ever had fruit. I'm too impatient for results, I guess. My grandmother used to grow a sweet potato suspended in water with toothpicks. It would trail all over her screened porch. I tried it once and wasn't successful. I think they use a growth inhibitor on most all potatoes now so they won't sprout. I'd hate to think it was my brown thumb instead!
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Dec 15, 2011 7:30 AM CST
I tried to find the picture of my little avocado tree but haven't come across it yet.

Right now I'm sprouting Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines. This one is 'Blackie' and it has to qualify for the Ugliest Tuber of the Year Award. But it is developing nice roots and is beginning to sprout out at the top now. Big Grin Green Grin!


Thumb of 2011-12-15/SongofJoy/51709e


Thumb of 2011-12-15/SongofJoy/c74068

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
[Last edited by SongofJoy - Dec 15, 2011 8:08 AM (+)]
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Dec 15, 2011 8:06 AM CST
Found the avocado pit pic.


Thumb of 2011-12-15/SongofJoy/b5664d
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Dec 15, 2011 9:22 AM CST
What a totally cool article Bubbles Hurray! Thumbs up

I'm such a novice - think clueless Green Grin! - at all the unusual "stuff" - Most of it was unknown to me as well.

Tee, I love sweet potato vines. Those roots look healthy Thumbs up
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 10:25 AM CST
Tee, I think that's also Boniatos, or what they call Cuban sweet potato in the grocery store. I wonder if you cut an "eye" off the tuber, if it will produce another plant. I usually toss my sweet potato vines each winter. I've never had success wintering them over. They turn to mush from overwatering, I think. After seeing your huge tuber, I'll look for mine next winter before putting things away.

Love the avocado tree. I think we've all grown one on the window sill, and then thought...now what? I wish we could grow them here also. We had a huge tree in Hawaii. I'm sure someone planted a seed years ago before they left the island. I wonder if they ever came back to see how large it had become?
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 10:39 AM CST
Vic, I've passed those veggies many times without really seeing them. Years ago, I wanted a big, really big elephant ear. Someone suggested checking out an Asian market for a tuber. I found one, paid very little for it, and it not only grew huge, but had many offspring. I was digging them every spring! They seemed to be everywhere. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

If one wants a tropical look to their garden for very little money, I would think that an Asian market or Mexican grocery store is a good place to start. If you compare the prices for some of the tubers and roots in the produce section to the prices listed on some nursery sites, it's really an eye opener.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Dec 15, 2011 10:44 AM CST
Thanks for the informative article.
I had tried Taro root as a plant,but did not know to soak it.
Thanks for the tip.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 10:53 AM CST
Thank you for reading the article. Not all the tubers have growth inhibitors on them, but it's reasonable to assume they do and just give them a bath.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Dec 15, 2011 11:13 AM CST
Bubbles said:Tee, I think that's also Boniatos, or what they call Cuban sweet potato in the grocery store. I wonder if you cut an "eye" off the tuber, if it will produce another plant. I usually toss my sweet potato vines each winter. I've never had success wintering them over. They turn to mush from over-watering, I think. After seeing your huge tuber, I'll look for mine next winter before putting things away.

Love the avocado tree. I think we've all grown one on the window sill, and then thought...now what? I wish we could grow them here also. We had a huge tree in Hawaii. I'm sure someone planted a seed years ago before they left the island. I wonder if they ever came back to see how large it had become?


They are both Ipomoea batatas but a bit different plants, I believe. These are too bitter to eat rather than just being dry like the Boniatos.

I will cut slips or just replant this one whole if I decide to only have one vine next year. I have a "regular" orange sweet potato rooting too and will cut slips from it for planting in the grow bags. Smiling

Yah, avocados grew in the ground outside my back door in So. Cal. Sigh! Glare
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
[Last edited by SongofJoy - Dec 15, 2011 11:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 11:38 AM CST
Thanks, no need to poison myself at my advanced age!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 15, 2011 9:36 PM CST
Sandi, I certainly enjoyed your article. I can't believe anyone would try to "peel" the cactus paddles! Thorns & then peeling? A lot of work for a small amount of "meat".
I hadn't thought about growth inhibitors on root vegetables. No wonder we don't see the sprouts on potatoes like we did when we were kids. It also makes me think about what's on that root vegetable I'm eating & what may have gotten through to the inside!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Dec 15, 2011 10:28 PM CST
Thanks Ann. I appreciate that. That little clerk was more concerned about me taking her photo, than getting stuck by the cactus. I assured her I wouldn't take her pic.
We'd all starve if we started questioning our food sources, wouldn't we? It's one more good reason to try to grow at least some of our food.
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
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Sheila_FW
Dec 16, 2011 1:07 PM CST
Wonderful walk down a very interesting produce isle. Good job! Thumbs up Having been a grocery checker years ago, it amazes me as to how much international culture has changed the produce isles of our markets now days. Very informative article.
Have you tried to grow jicama? I love those, and often thought about trying to grow those.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
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Bubbles
Dec 16, 2011 2:28 PM CST
Thanks Sheila! I'll be back there in the spring to pick up a few things to try planting. The first visit, I was with someone else who was actually shopping. I didn't need anything, so I was free to roam. I don't think I've ever enjoyed going to the store as much! The clerks were helpful and I had time to really look at everything.
I thought about jicama, but it grows on a vine from seed. The seeds are in a pod on the vine after the jicamas have been harvested. They're supposed to be poisonous, but when planted, produce the vine the jicamas grow on. It wasn't a vegetable I could pick up, take home, and plant like the others in the article.

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