‘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 have 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 the 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.