From time to time I get asked the question "Why do you bother to grow veg when you can buy all you want so cheaply at the supermarket?" It's true, you can buy so much there but, as I am sure any gardener will vouch, there is much more to gardening than just supplying fruit and veg to put on your plate. So, to the next person who asks why I grow my own, I shall point them to this blog post.
11 Reasons to Grow Your Own Fruit and Veg
Freshest possible produceGrowing your own means you have the freshest possible produce. As soon as you pick something it begins to lose quality and for some foods, for example sweetcorn, this happens really fast with those gorgeous sugars in the cob rapidly turning to starch. When you grow your own you can have it from plot to plate in minutes and you'll not lose any of that goodness.
Great tasteBelieve you me, you'll taste the difference when you grow your own. The first strawberry, picked on a summer day and popped into your mouth, still warm, really is a delight not to be missed.
Natural form of exerciseIf you don't like the gym don't worry. Gardening is a great form of free exercise and a lot more fun than a stationary exercise bike or running machine. And look at the muscles you'll be using:
Gets you out in the fresh airWe all know fresh air is good for us and gardening gives you a reason to get out in all seasons. You'll soon also be building up a healthy appetite for all that fresh produce you're growing.
Eat seasonallyOnce you start to grow your own you begin to eat seasonally. Roast parsnips in winter, lovely salads in summer and because it is all so fresh it tastes so much better. Strawberries in December might look lovely but they will be tasteless having been picked under-ripe then flown in from miles away.
No air miles and organicWhen you grow your own you are helping the environment. No more beans flown in from Africa when you can have them on your own plate with zero air miles involved. And you can grow your own produce organically.
Heirloom VarietiesIf you shop for your fruit and veg in the supermarket, there will be little or no choice of variety. There may be several apples, if you are lucky, but how many varieties of strawberry are available or carrots or cucumbers? Not many, yet the are hundreds of varieties available for you to grow at home. Most of these old heirloom varieties will not be grown commercially for various reasons but when you grow your own you'll be opening up your palate to a whole range of fabulous tasting and wonderful looking fruit and veg. Yellow raspberries, a multitude of pumpkins and more varieties of beans than you could possibly dream about. It is gardeners growing these varieties that are vital in the fight to prevent them being lost for ever in favour of the more "bland but transports/stores well" produce on most supermarket shelves.
Community SpiritThis is especially true if you have an allotment where friends can be made, advice freely given and excess veg swapped with neighbours.
Feeling of achievementQuite simply, the feeling you get when you first serve up a plate of your own produce never actually leaves you - I grew that, with my own hands and it is such a good feeling.
Connecting with NatureGardening gets you back to basics, connecting with Nature, the soil and the world around you. You'll be much more aware of the seasons and see things down at garden level that are all too easy to miss in our often busy lives. Gardening gives you time to slow down a little and enjoy life at the pace Nature sets. It's also a great way to get children to understand where their food comes from and to get them interested in becoming gardeners as they grow up.
A source of home-made presentsWho doesn't love a nice jar of home-made jam or chutney as a present and with your excess harvest you now have a ready supply of presents? My Mum loves it when I visit with a box of veg although I did learn the hard way that travelling from France to Exmoor with fresh leeks in the car makes it stink for the whole journey and days afterwards!
Are just starting out with growing, in which case look out for the series of blogs I'll be writing over the coming weeks aimed specifically as new gardeners. Or are you a long-standing gardener who could give any more reasons why growing your own is such a good idea?