veg the allotment gives

What the Allotment Gives Me that the Supermarket Can’t

what the allotment gives meSince I started blogging, I’ve put a lot of emphasis on the money-saving side of growing your own, but of course, there are far more, arguably better reasons to do it.

One of these is growing different veg to that on sale in the shops. I’m no radical grower and tend to stick to the tried and tested veg, but I was keen to find out if there is anything on my plot at the mo that I couldn’t buy in the supermarket.

I was especially interested in given the time of year when veg on the plot is not so plentiful, so I took a walk down to my local Co-op to investigate.

Garlic and Squashes
I’d watched the Great British Food Revival last week
 when Clarissa Dickson-Wright bemoaned the lack of British garlic in our shops. Straight away, this was backed up in the Co-op. The best I could find was Spanish garlic. Fortunately for me, my cupboard’s full of stored allotment garlic. They might be small bulbs, but they’re my bulbs.

And besides, my squashes are bigger than the co-op’s, which makes up for the little garlic. Like the garlic, the only squash the supermarket had was from foreign shores.

There were also only butternut squashes, so no other varieties like the gorgeous, nutty Crown Prince.

Pak Choi and Curly Kale
There was none of this, from home or abroad – reckon I’ll be harvesting my pak choi this weekend:

allotment gives that supermarket can't

Surprisingly, no curly kale on the supermarket shelves either.

It’s looking good on my plot now the whitefly has taken off. I’ve got the purple Scarlet variety too.

veg the allotment gives

Cavolo Nero
A vegetable I’ve tried this year for the first time is Cavolo Nero, which I’d describe as a cross between cabbage and kale (I think it is actually a type of kale). It’s absolutely delicious, and not something I’ve ever seen in a supermarket. I’ll definitely be growing this again.

Oriental Salad Leaves
My final favourite is the oriental salad leaves, which I couldn’t find in any of the salad packets on the shelves. Some had Mibuna in them, but not anything tasty and peppery like Green in Snow or Serifon, which I’ve been growing into the winter for a couple of years. The little leaves tend to last until the snow comes, but until then it’s grand to have a few fresh salads.

Of course, there is plenty in the Co-op which I don’t have on the plot, like Swedes and turnips, and proper, grown-up cauliflowers which dwarf my crap efforts. I reckon I might be looking for some help with my sprouts as well, and I’ll be needing somewhere to get leeks too after the rust disaster.

So, I mustn’t knock the Co-op. By many accounts, they seem like the supermarket good guy, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t decidedly smug when I walked out empty-handed this time around…

5 thoughts on “What the Allotment Gives Me that the Supermarket Can’t”

  1. There is always local greengrocers like the ones round the corner from me, which sell kale, purrple sprouting, the farmers’ market where I can get currently get locally grown brussel sprout tops, russian kale, a huge variety of squashes, potatoes etc. And cavolo nero has been available, for a price (!) in Waitrose for many years now along with Fenland celery and other home grown veg. Having said that I love growing the food I can fit in my garden space, and would always prefer to eat home grown whenever possible. The supermarkets are dominant but there are independents out there, don’t forget them completely.

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for the comment, definitely hear where you’re coming from. I’ve got a really good independent greengrocers around the corner from work. I used to get a veg box from there until I got my allotment, and its great to see what they stock.

    I went in this week to buy some bananas and they head different squash varieties, and local curly kale. If you haven’t got space to grow, these shops are definitely the next best thing imo.

  3. I can get all of the above including Carvelo Nero in my local Waitrose. I couldnt say if it is from the UK though. Shopped in Co-op today and whilst I was pleased that the cucumbers werent covered in plastic like they are at most supermarkets including Waitrose the range of vegetables was more restricted. I think different stores cater for different types of shoppers/cooks.

  4. The plot gives you intangibles that the shops don’t like a good workout (I’ve been shifting barrow loads of wood chip mulch this morning for example) and a sense of purpose and achievement.

  5. I miss my allotment cues Helen!

    Hi Jimll – that’s good going. Building up to wheelbarrowing some manure in the next couple of weeks. Not looking forward to the hard work, but know I’ll feel great afterwards.

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