Real Men Sow

How Growing My Own Changed My Eating Habits

purple sprouting broccoli

In the midst of this week’s Real Men Sow rhubarb reverence, Adam, blogger and veg grower at Tales from Plot A2 made an interesting point.

‘As a child I never liked the taste of rhubarb,’ he commented on my rhubarb post. ‘My mum loved it and had it a lot with yogurt and sugar. Just never appealed to me though. But as I grow older (as with a lot of things) my tastes are changing and find myself liking things I would never had imagined I would. Rhubarb is one of those things.’

This struck a chord, and for me is a direct consequence of my allotment adventures. In the post, I talked about my childhood memories of rhubarb, yet for every rhubarb plant, there were several veg that I couldn’t stick.

The Veg I Disliked – a Sprout Epiphany
Like many children, I had an on-going battle with mum over Brussel sprouts. Every time we had a roast or the like, she’d put sprouts on my plate, and every time I’d fork them to the side or try to feed sneak these rejected veg to the dog.

(TIP: sprouts are not good for dog flatulence)

It was only once I took on an allotment plot that this changed. In my first year, I bought everything and anything in the seed shop. Whether I liked the veg was irrelevant, I just wanted to grow as much as I could. This included sprouts.

Having grown sprouts, I of course had to try them, and suddenly I loved the much maligned Brussel sprout. They were sweet and delicate, and are now something I consider a treat. I don’t grow many, but I thoroughly enjoy the sprouts I do harvest.

The same also goes for broccoli, turnips, swede, spring greens and cabbage. As a kid, I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole, but now I specifically trawl books and websites for recipes to base around these veg.

The Veg I’d Never Heard Of
As well as the veg I now like, there is also the veg that I would once never have thought of buying and eating. Squashes are the best example of this for me. Roll back 6 or 7 years and I’d have probably thought Crown Prince was a type of paint. These days, squashes are one of the first seeds on the list to grow each year. I love them, for their taste, value for money, versatility and general splendour.

This also applies to many other fruit and veg: broad beans, chard, mangetout, kale, cavolo nero, purple sprouting broccoli and gooseberries to name a few. And potatoes are no longer just potatoes – they’re Pink Fur Apples and International Kidneys, Swifts and King Edwards.

A Whole New World
For me, herein lies one of the many magical things about growing your own veg. A whole new world opens up in front of you, where you fall in love with previously overlooked food such as purple sprouting broccoli, and want to make dinner around it.

There are so many different fruit and vegetables I’d have stumbled through life without enjoying if I hadn’t have taken on my allotment back in 2007. Sometimes I get a tad jealous of newcomers to the hobby, with all this fun and discovery ahead, but then I remember the best part of growing your own and eating within the seasons is that joy stays with you.

Harvests are enduring, and I never fail to get excited at the thought of a fresh one.

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  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!March 8, 2013 at 1:15 pmReply

    To me one of the best discoveries in growing my own food was that there are so many different varieties of each type of veg, not just the one or two you get at the grocery store. Dozens (or hundreds) of choices for everything! :)

  2. Jono

    JonoMarch 8, 2013 at 2:22 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey Alan, agree 100%, especially with salads. There are all sorts of wonderful leaves out there.

    I love the old heritage varieties too.

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


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