I’m a big fan of growing veg that I cook with often, so I grow in bulk. But I also like to grow unusual varieties that are hard to track down on my weekly shop. What do you produce and how do you grow yours?
Reading BBC online news the other day I was amazed to see an enormous onion weighing 18lb 1oz that took the World Record for the Heaviest Onion at the Harrogate Show. That’s the weight of a nine-month-old baby!
My onions (autumn-planted variety ‘Troy’ as recommended by Which? Gardening) produced a decent crop this year, but nothing bigger than a cricket ball. I was very pleased by these as they’re more than big enough for cooking and are free of chemical residues as I grew them organically.
But it made me think of all the different reasons we grow veg and what we’re trying to achieve. What drives you to keep at it?
Basic green or gourmet veg?
For many of us, growing our own has primarily been for money-saving reasons as we try to make our cash go further by not spending so much at the supermarket.
There are two ways to look at this; ‘gourmet’ veg such as Jerusalem artichokes are one of the most cost-effective veg to grow when you compare the size of crop you can get from a small area, compared to the price they’re sold for in the supermarket. However, do you really want tonnes of these rather bland-tasting veg best known for their rather unfortunate side effects when eaten?
I prefer to concentrate on growing lots of the veg that I really want in quantity, such as my onions, even though they’re relatively cheap to buy.
I also try to grow some unusual varieties that are hard to find in the supermarket, and I love getting my two daughters (aged three and six) involved so they know that veg comes from the ground not a plastic bag.
It’s been a tough year for growing veg as we’ve struggled with such a long, cold wet spring that rolled into a cold, wet summer for many. Some crops have recovered to some extent in the last month or so as decent weather finally returned. But some, such as butternut squash, didn’t even pretend to try.
What’s been your experience of growing veg this year? Will you be growing it again or is it just not worth the effort?