Real Men Sow

My Eight Tastiest Crops on the Plot

strawberries -  one of the tastiest crops on the plotNow the Veg Savings Spreadsheet 2011 is up and running, I’ve noticed that I can become a smidgen obsessed with the cost of all things allotment-related.

I spotted this when writing my previous post about choosing blueberry bushes. Suddenly, I was taking recommendations based on taste and appearance, rather than hard dosh.

It’s Not All About the Money
This was quite liberating, and reminded me that while money saving is brill, it’s not the reason I started growing my own produce. I started because I thought Escape to River Cottage was the best thing I’d ever seen on the tele, because of an increasing interest in our impact on the environment and because I wanted to spend more time with my cancer-recovering mum.

Soon, I also realised that, yes, it was true – homegrown food was delicious. This week, someone in my office asked me what I thought they should grow as a beginner, and in my heightened state of blueberry-induced freedom, I’ve decided to list the crops I recommended to my office friend. Grow these, and I reckon they too will be hooked forever.

P.S. Monday’s the last day of February, so don’t worry fellow geeks, I’ll be back posting about spreadsheets and savings…

Strawberries
I think these juicy little berries are the closest I’ll ever get to sweets on an allotment. Anyone who’s ever been to a pick your own will know what I mean when I say that the strawbs are lucky to make it home. I love the sugary treats so much I even eat them in sandwiches.

Tomatoes
I don’t like tomatoes. Well, I didn’t, until I grew my own. These ones I love, but supermarket ones are still on my list of Food Dislikes. It’s difficult to explain, but outdoor grown allotment tomatoes are like a completely different vegetable.

Plus, there are so many types to grow: little ones, big ones, beef ones, sweet ones, salad ones, I never get bored of toms.

Carrots
When I first got my allotment, Jan said to me that carrots were the one thing I must grow. Her reasoning for this is that they were so much sweeter and fragrant when freshly dug, and I’m not going to disagree with her. Whether I grate them in a salad, or roast them on a Sunday, carrots are still adorable.

Baby New Potatoes
Digging potatoes is exciting, because you never quite know what you’re going to get. It’s like a treasure hunt. This is all part of the allotment experience, and the first baby news of the season are a real injection of proper earthy food. That slight soily taste, boiled with fresh mint leaves is one of my summer high points.

brussell sprouts, one of the tastiest crops on the plotBrussell Sprouts
When I was a kid, I had a running battle with my mum over sprouts. Almost religiously she’d serve them up, and with equal zeal I’d eat everything else on the plate except the Brussels. That was until we grew some, and now I love them.

The same happened with a neighbouring plotholder, Andy. He hated veg, and only took his plot on because it backed on to his garden. Now he’s a proper 5-a-dayer.

Lettuce
Mmmm, crunchy (I don’t mean the grit). Nuff said!

Asparagus
I don’t have much asparagus on my plot, but what does pop up I treat like a King. Last year, I got spears from plot to plate in 9 minutes, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. This summer I’m taking my bike…

Mangetout
These crunchy, snappy, sugary green pods are another one that doesn’t always make it home. Truth be told, I’ve always struggled to grow them, and only had a couple of decent harvests. However, the successes are so mouth-watering, that every year I keep on trying.

There we have it. For me, the eight tastiest veg to grow. Sometimes I look back and still cannot believe I like Brussell sprouts, but that’s the magic of growing your own.

Have I missed something that you think a plot just cannot be without? My other half, Ailsa, is fuming that I’ve left the globe artichokes off. And what about the raspberries, she says?

Therein lays the beauty. There is just so much to enjoy.

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10 Comments

  1. EmmaFebruary 24, 2011 at 10:02 amReply

    We bought some raspberries from the supermarket last year. They looked lovely, but didn’t taste nice and hubby decided that rather than eat them himself he would give them to the chickens. Only they wouldn’t eat them either (and they love soft fruit). Home grown is the way to go!

  2. Tracy BoseFebruary 24, 2011 at 10:39 amReply

    Yum, good choices, although I remain unconvinced by brussells! I’ll hopefully have strawberries for the first time on my plot this year, cos I planted 24 Marshmellows in the autumn. I think curly kale/borocole should be in there too – eating that, lightly sauteed, in January was taste heaven.

  3. NigelFebruary 24, 2011 at 10:41 amReply

    You’re absolutely right – a tomato is a miserable thing, unless you can pick it from a living plant. We never eat bought ones raw but sometimes buy supermarket horrors for cooking.

    I’d also have added purple sprouting broccoli, which is undisputed queen of tasty brassicas, and comes when everything else is failing. Also, I’m almost pervy about Swess chard. We steam the fleshy stems separately from the leaves so you get two delicious veg from one plant.

    Great post. I’m newly inspired.

  4. Tweets that mention Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » My Eight Tastiest Crops on the Plot -- Topsy.comFebruary 24, 2011 at 10:55 amReply

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mary Grindley and Onestop Natural Shop, realmensow. realmensow said: New Blog Post: My Eight Tastiest Crops on the Plot http://www.realmensow.co.uk/?p=477 #allotment #growyourown [...]

  5. Jono

    JonoFebruary 24, 2011 at 6:15 pmReplyAuthor

    Emma – that sounds like refined chickens you’ve got there. Not too indifferent from my’s behaviour when I’ve been fishing. Suddenly Whiskers isn’t quite the same when its been fed fresh whiting!

    Tracey – Good luck with the strawbs. Kale is great, and a real treat during the depth of winter.

    Nigel – Thanks very much! Love the pervy about Swiss Chard comment. PSB is definitely another favourite of mine. Comes along just at the right time of year, like you say.

  6. Helen/patientgardenerFebruary 24, 2011 at 8:45 pmReply

    An interesting list. I thought about brussels but decided that as a first time allotmenter brussels might be too challenging to start with.

    • Jono

      JonoFebruary 26, 2011 at 8:54 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Helen.

      From experience, they can be hit and miss. In four years, I’ve only had two where they’ve been good. I’d give them a go though, especially as you can pick them when they’re little and sweeter.

      Probably should have said that the tops roll up cabbage like, and these are edible too. Good in stir frys and the like.

  7. ChristineFebruary 25, 2011 at 11:27 pmReply

    I’m just starting my “veggie garden” so this was a fabulous find! Thank you. I bought tomatoes and a strawberry plant, got coriander, basil and parsley … now I will have to get your other recommendations!

    • Jono

      JonoFebruary 26, 2011 at 8:51 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Christine.

      Thank you for your kind comment!

      Good luck with the veg garden.

      To be honest, these are my favourites, but anything you grow yourself will taste amazing. Its like eating delicacies every day!

      Jono.

  8. Country MouseFebruary 27, 2011 at 5:11 pmReply

    What a fun blog you have here! I used to work with my grandad on his allotments in Crosby, near Liverpool, as a kid/teenager – I can relate to everything you say about fresh picked/dug foods, and have so many happy memories. I live in California now and we have too many wild critters where I live, large and small, to hope to harvest anything. Instead I’ve gotten into the local native plants. I hope one day to cage off a bit of land to try growing food again.
    Oh, new potatoes and mint hmmmmmm.

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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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