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Growing Unusual Vegetables

I'm Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

Farmers might think the idea of growing food for fun sounds strange. But there are some people who do it all the time.

They grow some vegetables because their natural color or shape is pleasing to see. They grow others because scientists have developed new colors or different sizes for traditional vegetables.

One example is the bell pepper. Seed companies sell seeds for several different kinds of bell peppers. One pepper is a weak yellow color when it begins to grow. Then its color changes to white. As it grows, it changes color two more times -- to orange, then red.

If you are not interested in peppers that change colors as they grow, you can grow some that remain one color. You can try chocolate-colored peppers. Or purple. Or lavender ones. Each kind of pepper has its own special taste.

For the best possible taste, however, peppers should be left on the vine for two or three weeks after they appear ready. This gives them full flavor and greatly increases the vitamins they contain.

Another unusual plant is known as the yard-long bean, asparagus bean, dow ghok or snake bean. It grows up to one meter in length. It is an important part of the food supply in areas of Asia.

American farmers like it because it is different, yet tastes very much like the green beans they traditionally grow. Each bean has from ten to twenty seeds. The outside or pod can be eaten. Some of the very long beans are green outside but have black-and-white or red seeds.

Gourds are plants that people like to grow because of the many different shapes. They also have many uses.

Some round gourds are dried, painted and made into containers. Others have long necks and big bodies. These are dried, cut and made into containers to pour drinking water.

A kind of gourd called the luffa is used to make sponges. When it is fully grown, it is removed from the vine and permitted to dry for a few weeks.

The gourd is placed in water for a few hours. The outer shell is then removed. The gourd is placed in the sun to dry. When it is fully dry, it is cut into pieces for use as sponges. Luffa sponges have a rough surface. They can be used to clean away dead skin cells, which makes them a popular skin-care product.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Bob Bowen. I'm Gwen Outen.