Growing your own fruit and vegetables at home is a fantastic thing.
But how do you decide what to grow?
My earliest memories of homegrown food are at my Grandmas and Granda’s house up in Northumberland. They always had one half of their garden dedicated to growing vegetables. On Sundays, all the family would gather there for our traditional Sunday dinner and I would be sent out to the garden to pull up the carrots and snip the mint for my Grandma to make fresh mint sauce. At the bottom of the garden were the gooseberry bushes… I can still remember the sharp tart taste of the berries, so when I got my own growing space, gooseberry bushes were definitely on the list.
When I first decided to start growing my own vegetables I spent ages looking through gardening catalogues, making lists up on lists of all the vegetables I was going to grow.
It was a HUGE list
There was no way I would be able to grow everything I’d written down. I then took to social media to see what other allotment holders were growing – my Instagram feed was full of cabbages, broad beans and leeks.
So that’s where I started.
My first growing season was dominated by broad beans, brassicas, peas and leeks. I think I had around 15 broad bean plants, 12 cabbage plants, at least 10 cauliflowers and probably the same quantity of broccoli. Not forgetting the 8 Brussels spouts plants I had going on too! Then there were the leeks and onions. Oh my word, I must have planted at least 20 of each. I also had 2 full rows of peas, all growing at the same time.
Now, I like brassicas. I love fresh peas. I like leeks and I’m even partial to the odd Brussels sprout but I’d grown far too many of the same vegetables and you know what? I hadn’t actually grown anything I couldn’t buy cheaply in the supermarket, and I don’t really like broad beans. Loads of the vegetable plants I grew went to seed, some that were harvested went rotten as I couldn’t use them fast enough and I already had a freezer full of homegrown peas and beans.
It was time to reset and actually think…
What vegetables do we actually LOVE? What vegetables will we actually EAT?
From that point on, the growing list was easy
Now we try to grow food that we like, and we sow in smaller quantities. Although, I’ve not quite mastered the art of sucessional sowing, but I’m determined to get there! This way we can use everything we grow and we don’t let anything go to waste. If we are lucky enough to have a glut of a particular crop, we have the space at home to be able to store and preserve the excess.
So if you’re just starting off and you’re swamped by all the choice and varieties of vegetables out there, try thinking about what fruits and vegetables you actually like and grow those… you’ll always enjoy them and they’ll taste delicious too!