Saturday, 2 April 2011

Why grow vegetables?

As it is impossible to produce potatoes as cheaply as farm produced potatoes, we had the debate again whether it is worth planting potatoes. This always ends in the same consensus.  It most certainly is because of the following reasons:
  •          You can choose the varieties with the flavours that you like eating. 
  •         You can grow a variety of different types -some are better for salads, chipping (French fries), jacket potatoes, wedges, boiling, mashing or roasting. 
  •          You know what has gone into the soil.  The chemicals, fertilizer, manure etc.
  •          You know what has been sprayed onto the potatoes – nothing in my case.
  •          You can crop them whenever you like. 
  •         You can crop, prepare and eat them within 30 minutes and that is when the real flavour of garden produced potatoes is noticeably different from shop bought ones. 

As for potato, so it is for all the other vegetables you produce from your garden.  Furthermore, you can grow a variety of different vegetables that might be difficult or impossible to buy in shops.  Vegetables like oca, okra, American land cress, swede, minzuna, lambs lettuce, salsify, scorzonera, Jerusalem artichoke, beetroot, celeriac, Florence fennel and kohlrabi are unlikely to be at the forefront of your shopping list but can be grown relatively easily in the garden.  

Moreover, you are able to eat greater quantities of these vegetables; more often; at their peak and younger than you could if you had to buy them from a shop. 

If you go to the expense of buying asparagus maybe once a year, compare this with the number of times you will be eating relatively large portions of it when you grow your own.  I don’t grow it because I don’t like the taste, it has a relatively short season and it takes up inordinate amounts of room on the allotment. 

When the tomatoes and peppers start to crop, I have them in salad every day together with; several kinds of lettuce, rocket, lambs lettuce, minzuna, pickled beetroot, pickled onions, radish, spring onion, mange tout peas, spinach and baby leaved red cabbage.   Would you go out and buy that lot from a shop every day? 

Growing herbs both for teas and for culinary purposes seems to be eminently sensible not only because of the price of herbs but also because they are easy to grow.  Parsley, mint, thyme, basil, chamomile, dill, sage and rosemary all make a cracking tea but also add to many dishes.  I like a little chamomile, parsley, mint and dill in salads.   

Perpetual  spinach, chard and rhubarb keep growing back after being harvested in the same way as cut and come again lettuce, lambs lettuce and minzuna.  This means that it is difficult to eat enough to stop them from going to seed. You get a greater and tastier crop if you pick beans, peas, squashes, courgettes and broccoli flowers when they are young and more flavoursome. 

If you preserve your vegetables then you can eat them the year round. This is also true of the more staple vegetables like peas and beans. Moreover, a lot of vegetables can be stored by freezing, salting, drying, pickling, clamping, etc. so that you can eat them throughout the year.   Onions, garlic and shallots will keep for long periods if you dry them well.  Pumpkins and squashes will stay fresh if stored in a frost free place.  Beans and peas can be frozen as can a great variety of other fruit and vegetables and used throughout the year.  Various other ways of preserving such as salting and pickling can be used to preserve vegetables to make their season longer. 

So these are just some of the reasons why I grow my own vegetables.  

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