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Aug 2, 2010 08:43 AM

What kind of things do you grow?

It seems to me that it isn't worth growing something that is inexpensive and readily available at the store. But it does seem worth growing things you can't get good quality at the store or is too expensive at the store.

For example:

Fennel should be easy to grow but is expensive at the store.
Herbs are easy to grow and are expensive at the store
Tomatoes easy to grow but you can't hardly get ripe tomatoes at the store.
Peaches and nectarines not so easy to grow but you can't get them ripe unless a farmer near you grows them.
shallots easy to grow ridiculously expensive at the store

Things that don't seem worth the effort because this type good quality, cheap produce is available:

peppers, potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli.

What do you think?

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  1. I agree with your point in theory, especially about the herbs. When I buy a bunch of cilantro, some of it usually spoils before I get a chance to eat it. So growing it and picking just what I need makes even more sense, economically. However, I do have to point out that fresh, newly dug potatoes taste better than store bought and also cook more quickly. They're fun to grow, though not essential. Also, I'd add strawberries to your list. Strawberries at the store usually have been picked too early and are crunchy. Snow peas are supposed to be crunchy and they are often limp. So they're good to grow, too. On my not-worth-it list I reluctantly put peaches and nectarines. I simply can't avoid leaf curl. I've tried.

    1. I too, thought fennel was easy to grow, and this year, upon picking my fennel, I realized it was just a fennel core.
      But I agree with you on the other points, tomatoes are easy but cost alot at the farmers market and are poor quality at the store. And herbs are so much more convenient coming from a garden, no wasting 2$ for 1oz that will you'll probably only use 1/4 of.

      1 Reply
      1. re: AndrewK512

        I wasn't sure how easy fennel is to grow. maybe that is why it is so expensive.

        I thought I had listed strawberries.....definitely strawberries. It isn't worth buying those things with white shoulders.

      2. The original comment has been removed
        1. We grow asparagus (dig once, eat the sweetest stalks you can imagine for 20 yrs); jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes. This is a member of the sunflower family and produces a delicious little tuber that you dig in the fall, that is wonderful raw in salads or roasted like potatoes. You dig them before the ground freezes and they will keep in the fridge until you run out in the spring. Because some tubers stay in the ground, they come up every year so it is more a case of thinning out than replanting.

          Moving down the garden, about as soon as the ground starts to warm, we plant a big variety of lettuces both plants and from seed, lots of mesclun mixes, radicchio, rocket (arugula), etc. so we've had salads from the garden just about daily since April. Then sugar snap peas and snow peas along the fences. Also cucumbers on the fences.

          Fennel and cilantro come up as volunteers. (I did get a new cilantro for by the back door near where I've got the parsley).

          12 tomato plants, 4 of which are plums, 4 beefsteak types, maybe 2 early, and 2 grape. I buy All America winners if at all possible. The tomatoes are planted with aged compost, then covered with black landscape material, and then covered with a thick layer of hay like the rest of the garden.

          Also 1 hill of zucchini -- gold rush or related. This was an AA variety that I love. It is straight, golden yellow with a green tip, and virtually seedless, even when it grows larger making it great for roasting or grilling. It is one of my favorite.

          Broccoli, great, you cut it and it gows back. Garlic, if you haven't tried it is fun. You plant the cloves in the fall just before the ground freezes and cover them with a thick layer of compost. In early summer you cut off the flower stem and use them in cooking, and then later when the leaves start to die, you dig the bulbs (about a month ago) and hang them to dry. Voila, from 100 cloves to 100 heads, enough to last you for the coming year, and they do last.

          Almost forgot green beans, very prolific. Swiss chard, flavor like beet greens. I use them in our favorite veg dish, sauteed with garlic, with white beans over penne topped with cheese.

          I've done potatoes in the past, but now that we've see the tomato late blight and learned how it will winter over in potatoes, am inclined not to bother. Also, I don't think corn is worth the work unless you've got quite a bit of land and really high fences.

          Herbs are another matter. They're in gardens around the house.

          Mint, anybody need mint? Spearmint, peppermint, you start with one, and before you know it you've got 200 sq feet.

          We do supplement all of our gardens with 2 to 3 year-old compost.

          4 Replies
          1. re: junescook

            Oh wow. Wish we were your neighbor. I think lettuce especially is so perfect from the home garden. The "mixes" in the store always seem pretty blah to me and they seem to spoil so fast.

            1. re: c oliver

              That's why we pick by the leaf rather than the head. Also fprgot to mention stuff like mustard greens, and cresses that add bite to salads, and tot soi that we use either raw or cooked.

              We also keep two big jars of mixed sprouts going in the kitchen. We love our salads.

              1. re: junescook

                I used to garden, tho' not at your level, but now we live in the mountains with short, cool summers and our property is also quite shady. I'd intended to plant lettuces in a wheelbarrow and "chase" the sun around the deck. But life interfered. Next year.
                PS: Good arugula is one of my favorite things. I can eat it right out of the bag coming home from the farmers market. Sigh :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  At this point we're still planting our meslun mixes and arugula from seed, but all in the shade of other things in the garden. Otherwise the sun is so strong, everything would either dry out or bolt too quickly. Last year in the NE was very cool and wet, and we had the best year for lettuces and greens ever. If you have dirt and bright shade, and can keep seeds watered, go for it.

          2. I have two priorities. Grow things I don't buy in the store because they are expensive or ugly. Grow what I love and will keep. Grow something new. OK that is three. Basically that boils down to growing what I can for my area. We have a short grow season in the coastal PNW. But when it is sunny...

            We have an orchard - so always fruit. I planted piles of berries on the orchard fence this year. So berries. Lots of'em. I grow kiwi - which goes against all my rules since nobody at Casa Sal eats them. But others do and it allows me to lure them into my wine sipping area.

            I grow fennel, but it bolts. So not many. I end up using it in broth or feeding it to the chickens. We grow TONS of greens because we love them and they are silly expensive here. Beans and tomatoes because I like to watch them grow and eat them. We grew sugar snap peas this year. OH. They were so freaking good. Flavor bombs! I grow asparagus, potatoes and horseradish because they are there - or have become invasive and I am tired of fighting it.

            Although they do grow here (and very well) I do not grow - never ever - brusselsprouts or artichokes. Former attracts all the aphids within a 20 sq. mile area and latter because I get my back up about cleaning them.