what not to grow 2013

What Not to Grow 2013

what not to grow 2013As a veg grower, asking yourself what not to grow might seem a silly question.

However, if you’ve only got limited space, then something has got to give. Planning for growing in the garden, I’m in just this position. My growing space is going to be cut to roughly a third of what I have on the allotment, and this can only lead to tough decisions.

When I ran my GYO money-saving experiment last year, it was really interesting to note the space versus cost in the shop ratios.

Cauliflowers
For example, my recent cauliflower (minor) success has given this veg a potential reprieve, but can I give up valuable space to such fickle and unreliable veg (see last year’s attempt in the picture!)? We don’t eat many caulis after all. If I really want a big old lump of cauliflower cheese to cheer me up on a cold winter’s night I can get a tip-top English one from the shop for just 85p.

Potatoes
Intriguingly, potatoes were the tenth biggest money saver, but I think they’re off the agenda next year, as I took up a whole bed growing just 15kg of tatties, saving me about £19. At £2 for 2.5kg in the shops, the spreadsheet says no. Some pink fir apples in a bag might be a compromise…

Onions
Onions fall into the same bracket as potatoes: English varieties are available all year round in the shops, and they’re cheap as chips to buy – under a quid for a bag of 6 at the local co-op.

Garlic
Garlic is an interesting one. Like onions, it is very cheap to buy in the shops, but if you do have space, it is worth growing on the basis that finding English garlic is almost impossible. Cutting down food miles is a great reason to grow your own, and garlic is a staple of many people’s cooking.

Sweetcorn
I really, really want to grow some sweetcorn next year. I’ve never been able to at the allotments because the badgers wolf the kernels down before anyone can get there to harvest. So I was looking forward to getting amongst some cobs in the garden next year. Trouble is, my mum grew sweetcorn this summer, and each plant took up a lot of space but only provided 3-4 cobs.

My greengrocer sells 3 local corn on the cobs for £1.50 during the season, which again is very cheap and there is no chance of the badgers getting them there. They’re delicious too, especially as a dessert drizzled with maple syrup…

Don’t Grow What You Don’t Eat
Of course, my list for next year’s fruit and veg will also be decided by what we don’t each much of. We’re not big Brussel sprouters, and I’d rather eat my feet than a turnip or celeriac so we use the space for other veg that is popular in our house, like beets; or good freezers such as French beans.

It seems obvious, but I know when I started out, I grew everything under the sun regardless of whether I liked the veg or not. I’ve got much more focus now, and tend to tie my annual growing down to the favourite stuff together with two or three experiments.

It’s Not Just About the Cash!
I blather on about money-saving a lot, but growing your own veg is also about taste and pleasure. The cash aspect is interesting though, and certainly aids the decision-making process when planning patches and ploughing through seed catalogues.

What I eat and what saves me cash will form the basis of my patch next season, but I am going to sow a few sly sweetcorn and cauli plants, as well as some other bonus veg. I’ll stick to my plan, but if there are a few stray spaces going I’ll stick them in there and see what happens.

A little randomness in amongst the order never hurt anyone eh.

5 thoughts on “What Not to Grow 2013”

  1. Good advice Jono (don’t grow what you don’t eat), but I have one suggestion: grow at least one new thing every year. Something different, perhaps something you’ve never even seen in the shops before. I had two of these “new” veggies this year: Mexican sour gherkins, and rat’s tail radishes.

    The gherkins were grape-sized cucumbers that looked quite a bit like watermelons, and the rat’s tail radishes produced pea pods where each pea was crunchy and bursting with hot radish flavor. Both were exciting to see grow — at least once.

    I don’t know that I’ll grow either of them again this year (I may find a trellis or pole for the gherkins vine to climb somewhere) but they were worth growing for the adventure!

  2. One of the few things I will miss about the allotment is not having home grown garlic. I get through masses and I really noticed the difference between the quality of home grown to shop bought particularly in the winter.

  3. Hi Alan -I agree with that, definitely. Last year I tried sweet potatoes. Its a little too mild to grow them here really, but I got a few. They make very attractive cover plants too. I grew cavolo nero this year for the first time, which I’ve liked a lot.

    Hi Helen – agree about the garlic taste. I’m wondering whether to try a few bulbs in pots on my patio.

  4. HI Jono, Great post. Definitely into growing only what you love to eat, especially when time and space are limited. We eat loads of salads and so grew heaps of lettuces this summer and autumn. It’s been such a treat to pop out into the (front) garden nearly every night for dinner (or part of). Debating where/if I can squeeze in Jerusalem artichokes this year or should I experiment with a Fuchsia for its tasty berries instead? Tough choices ahead I fear!

  5. If they were honest with themselves, most gardeners / allotmenteers would conclude that their hobby is not cost-effective! But we have to factor-in the quality, taste and accessibility of our veg, and the pleasure, fresh air and exercise the hobby provides. I’m not giving it up yet, that’s for sure. Just think how much you have to pay for a pint of beer, a pack of cigarettes, a visit to a cinema, or a round of golf and you’ll see how valuable our hobby is.:)

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