Real Men Sow

5 ‘Fun’ Vegetables to Grow in the Garden


I’ve been thinking.

Why do I grow veg?

In the past there have been a number of reasons. I grow veg to save money, and once spent a year trying to put a figure on it. I have grown as much as I possibly can in the past in an attempt to be as self sufficient as I could, and I have always grown veg, foraged and fished because I am the biggest River Cottage fanboy you could ever wish to meet.

This is me, outside the original RC during my stalkery days.


I have also grown veg because once you’ve tasted homegrown produce, there really is no going back.

This is all very lovely, but the other day it dawned on me. Growing your own is fun! Fun! Of course, I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve done, but I’ve never exclusively grown for fun only. So this year, that’s what I’m going to do.

The ‘fun’ veg is going to go in to my three garden beds and the greenhouse, so I can marvel at them any time of the day. There will be no brassicas in my garden however. Three years running of cabbage white brassica massacre does not constitute fun.

Here are my 5 ‘fun’ veg to grow in the garden:

My favourite tomatoes to grow are the big fat beefsteak varieties, such as Marmande. The fruits look almost alien, but they’re so chunky, flavoursome and juicy they make a real treat in the kitchen.

The deep red colour of a tomato is beautiful to photograph, and the scent from a plant is a so distinctive and heady.

If you’re new to tomatoes, here are 7 tips for growing them.

I have reduced my courgette count to just one plant as I’ve found them so ridiculously productive that this is more than enough to feed my family. Courgettes are a beginner’s dream, but for me the fun is to be had in the speed in which they grow.

Find me another vegetable that will grow several inches in a day. As daft as it sounds, the speed in which a courgette can grow between the morning and evening has made me jump in the past.

Keeping an eye on your courgettes is key. Turn your back for a couple of days and you’ll end up with marrows. Trying to stay on top of the courgette harvest does require constant checks this time of the year, but I wish many of my other plants were as productive.

When I took on my original allotment, squashes weren’t all that popular and I was in the minority growing them. Times have really changed however, and lots more plotholders are growing these brilliant veg. There are great to grow for many different reasons, but I think it is the wonderful array of shapes and sizes that makes squashes fun.

My favourites are the amazing Turks Turban, the handsome Crown Prince and the good old butternut.

Although I do happen to think there is a bit of an art to growing chillis, they definitely have the fun factor. Long ones, short ones, green ones, red ones, yellow ones, mild ones and of course, hot ones!

Although chillis can be grown outside, they fare much better in a greenhouse so I always plant mine out in there. There are so many types of chilli to try, and the hottest I’ve grown was the mental Dorset Naga. Not recommended whole…

Make sure you mark the plants clearly too. One year I somehow ended up freezing all my chillis in the same bag at the end of the year, leaving me with a game of chilli roulette over the Winter!

Pink Fir Apple Potatoes
As well as being an incredibly productive potato, this nobbly, pink spud is as distinctive and unusual as veg comes.

I love digging up potatoes – it’s like a treasure hunt, with that exciting air of anticipation as you dig around the plant, wondering how many you’ll find. That’s the fun part of potatoes for me, and when they look like pink fir apples, the annual potato harvest is even more entertaining.

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  1. MattFebruary 18, 2016 at 9:04 pmReply

    Unusual coloured varieties like Pink Fir are great fun. The other year I grew some Black Russian tomatoes from seeds a friend gave me, and I love purple varieties of carrots too.

  2. Mark WillisFebruary 19, 2016 at 8:32 amReply

    I nominate also the Radish. They look good, taste nice and are very quick to grow – in a small space 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, three years on, 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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