A lot of people ask this question. We are so strongly entrenched in our modern lives that, for some of us, growing our own veg seems as sensible as flying to the moon. Some of the arguments you will hear “It’s so much easier to pop to the supermarket” “My kids don’t like veg anyway” “Gardening is so expensive” “It must be hard, those t.v. gardeners earn a fortune”. So, let’s take a look at some of these arguments.

“It’s so much easier to pop to the supermarket”

This is a big issue for a lot of people. In our very modern times, we have become accustomed to buying everything from the supermarket. It doesn’t matter to us whether it is in or out of season. In fact, I wonder how many people, if asked, would know what veg were in season at any given time?

Is this really a good deal? We are paying to have goods that have been picked when not yet fully ripe and flown halfway across the world to a supermarket. By the time we buy that produce, it is already well past its best, both in flavour and nutritionally. It has been said that, ironically, frozen veg is often of a higher quality than so-called “fresh” veg. By growing your own, you can be certain of the very freshest food, ripened as nature intended.

When you grow sweet corn, there is a saying “walk to pick it, and run back”. The moment you pick vegetables they start to deteriorate, so the quicker you can get your corn to the pan the better it tastes! I can guarantee that the first time you eat a tomato, or a strawberry, or even a carrot, eaten the minute it is picked, you will never again question the benefits of home grown veg. 🙂

“My kids don’t like veg anyway”

A lot of children are thought to “not like” veg. When people tell me this, I never really believe them. There are so many vegetables out there, and so many ways of preparing them, that I cannot believe that anyone can “not like” ALL of them.

The apprentice loves veg from brocolli and brussels sprouts, through carrots and swedes, all the way down to salad. But, the first time she had leeks they made her physically ill. It was such an extreme reaction that I even considered allergies. When she had a similar reaction to rhubarb, the tiny cogs that make up my thinking gear, started turning. After some experimentation, I discovered that it wasn’t the taste, it was the texture of leeks and rhubarb. If I puree them for leek and potato soup, or rhubarb crumble, she loves them.

So what I am trying to say is that children will eat veg. If they genuinely don’t like something, then maybe there is a reason such as texture. Maybe they just dont’ like that particular food – I personally cannot stomach pulses, we all have likes and dislikes – but it may be that they don’t want carrots covered in an 86-ingredient sauce. Maybe they just want them plain – or even raw! 🙂

Gardening can be a great way to encourage veg eating in children. Our modern children have become so far removed from their food, and so used to popping a package in the microwave that, to many chidren, the novelty of picking peas and eating them fresh from the plant might be all it takes. All of a sudden they like peas! Get them gardening with you. Let them choose a veg to grow and be responsible for. Or have a runner bean race or grow pumpkins. They will take a pride in caring for their leafy “pet” and will be eager to eat their own produce. 🙂

Gardening is so expensive

This is one argument I can fully agree with. Gardening appears to have joined the ranks of boat ownership, horses and skiing. If you take a perfectly ordinary product, and market it for any of the above, you can automatically double the price tag!

The good news is that most of those high end products are totally unnecessary. Your plants will not know (and REALLY not care) whether you bought a watering can for £1 from the pound shop, or a £60 watering can that comes with 18 different spray heads, a self mixing device that will produce the right mix of the right plant food at the push of a button, and makes the tea when you’ve finished. “Some” of the products on sale, may actually make the job easier, but a far larger number will be used once and then sit at the back of the shed awaiting re-incarnation via the recycling depot.

The short answer is that gardening will be as expensive as you allow it to be, but can be as cheap as you want to make it 🙂

It must be hard

It is true, that the t.v. gardeners earn a good living from what they do. But the strange truth is that our ancestors have grown their own food for the greater part of human history – and all without any help from t.v., Gardeners’ World, Alan Titchmarsh or any others you care to mention. Now, I don’t have anything against the t.v. clan – I am sure they are all very nice people, and there can be no doubt that they are all experts in the field. But that doesn’t mean that growing a few new potatoes or runner beans is beyod the rest of us. In fact, I have a sneaky feeling that Mr. Titchmarsh (if asked) would say the same – get those seeds, or plants, and get growing. If you wait until you think you know enough to start, then you’ll never do it!

Just like rearing children, if you bought all the books, tried to learn everything you will need to know, learned about every disease and ailment and become an expert in nutrition before you had the first one, the human race would die out in approximately one generation because no-one would ever have children again.

Gardening is the same. You need to make that leap of faith, choose something you would like to grow and DO IT. Chances are you will have a fantastic crop of your choosing and, guess what, if you run into problems you will solve them – and learn from them

You don’t need to know it all just decide what to grow – and learn by doing it. And before you know it, you will be sitting down to a plae of veg of your own making 🙂

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