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ETpro's avatar

Would more of us go back to growing some of our own food if we knew how much better it tastes fresh from the garden?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) August 21st, 2010

I was born right at the end of WWII, so my folks had just fought their way through the bitter years of the Great Depression. We lived behind my grandma’s big house, and she still owned quite a spread of property. Mom had a decent sized vegetable garden out back and my dad had a very sizable orchard growing enough fruit that we always had plenty to give, barter or sell to neighbors.

We know about super-sweet corn today. It’s a cultivar that has been bred specially to make sugars that don’t break down after picking. But few of us know that ordinary yellow and white corn is every bit as sweet if you pick it, husk it, and cook it right away. Asparagus grown in the garden and picked for immediate cooking is almost as sweet as super-sweet corn. Whether it is tomatoes, green peas, bell peppers, Swiss chard, or fruit; unless you have tasted garden fresh, you have no clue how it should taste.

Our garden had corn, asparagus, green and red bell peppers, rhubarb, Swiss and red chard, lettuce, tomatoes, green beans, butter beans, snap beans, okra, carrots, squash, beets, turnips cucumbers and peppermint.

For fruit, we had Green D’Anjou, Bartlett, Red Bartlett, and Bosc pears; Red delicious and Granny Smith as well as wild crab apples; Damson, Gage and Red Victoria Plums; Freestone Peaches; Concord, red and white grapes; blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, blueberries, strawberries and wild red and white mulberries; brown turkey, Celesta and Kodata green figs; watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes; and even Japanese persimmons and quinces.

When you grow it in your own soil, you have a pretty good idea what’s in it, on it, and how great it is going to taste. What do you think it would take to coax more of us back into growing some of our own food?

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35 Answers

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

It only tastes better if you don’t kill it. For those of us with black thumbs, it just tastes like dead.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

We had a garden when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s. I hated working in it, but loved most of the produce. Most, I said. I hated okra and squash. I still hate okra, but I’ve learned to like squash.

Kraigmo's avatar

I think something divine happens when you grow your own food or smoke. Even if it’s a strain that others commonly have…. something really amazing occurs when you do it yourself. The results are usually deliciously satisfying in a very sparkling way. (And free of pesticides, herbicides, and human and machine handling). I’ve recently sampled some homegrown lettuce that was super satisfying on a veggieburger and in a salad. I’ve also sampled other homegrown vegetables and herbs, to much delight.

The best way to get more to do it, is to hand them some sprouted seeds or live clones.

mrentropy's avatar

I would love to, if I had the time to work it. I’d also love to buy it from someone who grew it and sold it fresh.

SeventhSense's avatar

I think the time to tend it is key. Also the motivation for healthier food would have to take precedence over the damn convenience of the mega mart which sells strawberries on December 23 at 11:00 PM on a Monday. But I definitely agree as to the taste and health reasons. My friend just gave me a couple of big, juicy beefsteak tomatoes the size of grapefruits and they are delicious. The store brand fruit doesn’t compare. I do buy locally from farm stands and markets though. Often the prices are great.

kevbo's avatar

I have a dozen gardening books and can’t even get a small square foot garden (4’ x 4’) to produce. My head and heart have yet to click their heels together three times and chant “there’s no plate like home (grown).” groan? I am so sadly out of touch with my inner homesteader.

jaytkay's avatar

I think it would only happen if store-bought food became prohibitively expensive. People have other interests and demands on their time.

Personally I would grow most of my own vegetables if I had the garden space. But I think most people would choose to apply their energy elsewhere.

DominicX's avatar

All I know is, I tried growing melon and it sucked. They were teeny tiny. This is not the right climate for melon.

We act like everybody should grow their own food and the world would be wonderful and idyllic, but there are a fair amount problems with that. One, people live in all different types of climates that don’t grow all kinds of food. I love melon. I’m not going to go without it just because I can’t grow it here. If I can get it from somewhere else, then I’m going to. Two, not everyone has the land to grow their own food. We don’t all live on a farm with acres and acres of space. People in cities certainly wouldn’t be able to. This assumes we all should live rurally. My family does have plenty of fruit trees and we have a vegetable garden, but it is not near enough to live off of, not even close.

I’m not saying food doesn’t taste better grown in people’s gardens; my neighbor grew the greatest cherries I’d ever tasted in my life. But it isn’t practical for a lot of people.

Austinlad's avatar

Wish I could grow tomatoes that taste better than the ones from the market!

muppetish's avatar

My friend’s father has a lovely garden even though he’s a tiny backyard in an urban area. He has plum, apricot, peach, and apple trees, tomato vines, and a few other things I cannot recall. The apples are ginormous and very, very sweet. All the trees are potted, smaller trees (sorry I don’t know where he bought them or how long they’ve been growing) and he is constantly checking their water, controlling the bug situation, and shooing parrots away (especially from the apricots – they are constantly nicking fruit from the tops of the trees.)

Gardening has also done wonders to reduce his stress-level.

I’d love to have a little garden like that. Maybe not so many trees at once, but I could see getting good use out of planting spices and herbs if nothing else.

Seaofclouds's avatar

If I liked most of the things that you can grow in a garden, I would do it. As it is right now, the only things I really like are pumpkins and carrots (at least those are the only two I can think of off the top of my head). I like corn as well, but I doubt I could ever grow it. I do buy it from local farmers though.

ETpro's avatar

@hawaii_jake Drat. I forgot about the squash. Okra and squash were the only two veggies I didn’t like as a kid. Now I love them both, but part of that is learning how to cook them properly. Granny and mom both cremated them into blobs of disgusting mush.

@Kraigmo The only spice my mom thought to grow was peppermint. But we now grow oregano, chives, sweet basil, lemon grass and sprouts in our windows. We’re in a inner city condo in Boston now with no yard, so we can’t manage much more than that.

@kevbo Sorry to hear that. It’s a handy talent to develop just in case you are one of the few that survive the apocalypse and have to figure out how to live off the land.

@DominicX There is no question it takes a bit of study. You need to take into account the climate, growing season, soil type, drainage and light a garden plot will get. Only certain crops will grow in a given locale. Poor soil can be modified, and drainage increased or modified, but you have to know what to do. Local agriculture departments of your state or city can often provide guidance. And yes, I forgot cherries and grapes. We grew lots of varieties of grapes.

@Austinlad You can grow tomatoes in a sunny window. Vine ripened tomatoes are incredibly delicious.

@SeventhSense Wow. I’d love to have access to a setup like that.

@muppetish Apples are what got me thinking of this question. There is a riverfront park two blocks from here, and I go over there every other day, weather permitting, to do a heavyhands workout. There’s a apple tree there that is just dropping its fruit, and today I gathered a couple that looked free from worms or damage before heading home. I was stunned at how powerful the taste of that tree-ripened apple was.

deni's avatar

ABSOLUTELY. not that its the easiest thing to do, but it’s soo worth it. oh my god, have you ever had an egg that has been laid that morning? it is fucking phenomenal! dark orange yolk and the richest taste ever. im drooling.

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

Totally. I’ve got blueberry bushes in my frint yard. They taste soo much better than store bought. Mega cheaper, too.

ETpro's avatar

@deni Definitely. The spread next door had a large chicken coup with lots of laying hens. We had to put up with the early morning crowing of a couple of roosters they kept for when they wanted fertile eggs to breed more chickens, but for that we could barter our fruit and produce for their eggs.

They also grew bronze Southern sweet scuppernong grapes which I absolutely adored. We didn’t even bother with barter for those. They just picked from our vines when they wanted Concord or white grapes, and we harvested what we wanted of the scuppernongs.

Coloma's avatar

I have had gardens and chickens for years, but have grown weary of the work in my middle age.

Grown peas, beans. squash, corn, ( edible and ornamental ) peppers, tomato’s, potato’s, ( purple, german fingerlings ) chard, cabbage, lettuce, pumpkins, melons, etc.

I have heirloom pineapple tomato’s right now, but that is all.

Well..I do have a huge array of potted grasses and bamboos and flowers.

I have battled gophers and deer for years, and this house, while on 5 acres, is over run with deer which can jump 7–8 foot fences with ease.

I just don’t care to go to the trouble and expense of deer fencing everything with 10 ft. fences.

I love gardening and my plants but, I have officially reached burnout. lol

It’s a novelty for those that have never done it, but for those that have, after awhile t loses it’s appeal. A LOT of work.

ETpro's avatar

@Coloma You could always put out a lousy garden and eat venison.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma You took the words right out of my mouth. Even down to the 5 acres. Woodchucks, deer, rabbits, skunks are constantly after it. The past two weeks I have been thinning out the skunk herd.

@ETpro I’m with you, pal

Coloma's avatar

@ETpro

No thanks…too gory for me. lol

@worriedguy

Haha..I know, nature is out of control over here too.
I am over run with lizards and frogs and gophers and deer and turkeys and raccoons.

Just afew minutes ago I was doing the delta lockdown on the cat door when the herd of raccoons came scurrying by my garage. Sometimes I wonder why I live here even though I love it. lol

Coloma's avatar

Oh, and….the coyotes nabbed my last two chickens in May.

I am done! haha

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I believe more of us would be open to growing some foods if we thought they’d be any healthier than commercial produce. What would you do, water your crops with bottled water? Most people won’t drink tap water and then the soil around homes is usually fill from who knows where, bagged soil is weird stuff and most seeds genetically altered. All this is usually more expensive than buying market produce. Why bother?

Ron_C's avatar

It is funny how these coincidences occur. I was just reading a “Good Housekeeping” article about a growing trend in young families. Since the economic realities almost require that both parents work, the only time they have together with their children is mealtime. According to the author both parents find cooking relaxing and when the kids help, it draws the family together.

It turns out that these “born again cooks” like to use local recipes and local supplies. They want meat that has not been treated with hormones and transported from factory farms. They want locally grown, seasonal vegetables. They prefer to grow their own herbs and use their own recipes or ones handed down from their parents and grandparents rather than from a gourmet chef.

When I was younger and didn’t travel for work, I had a respectable garden. Everything tastes better when you plant, till, and harvest with your own hands. My kids would get home from school and raid the garden, especially the snow peas, before they’d drop off their books. I got a little upset that they raided the garden was secretly happy that they enjoyed what I planted.

It is good to see the trend away from GM seeds and toward “heritage’ seeds. I would much rather plant seed from my neighbor than from Monsanto, the same guys that make my kitchen floor.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Liking food from the garden pre-supposes that 1) all people will eat a varied diet of vegetables 2) all people have 1— 2 hours a day to put into futzing with a garden, 3) all people know how to cook with fresh produce and 4) people have the time and interest to preserve the bounty of their gardens for the winter months.

It’s a great idea. The urban farming model is catching on as part of sustainability. So far, I’ve invested about $150 in my four tomato plants and herb garden- building raised beds, getting new dirt, buying plants, tomato cages, fertilizer, insecticide, and bloom set. I’ve picked exactly two tomatoes to date, and have another six on the plants. To increase my yield, I would have to pay to have my neighbor’s oak tree cut down because it blocks the sun from hitting my front yard. He’s okay with me doing that, but I’m not okay with spending $1000 to grow more tomatoes.

I have given serious thought to buying a share in a family farm co-op, which for $600, will provide me with fresh vegetables grown on an organic farm. The money is due in January, and that seems to be a bit of a challenge as it hits right after the holidays, and at the same time tuition is due.

Ron_C's avatar

@BarnacleBill I like the $600 share in a co-op. Why not put the money aside as part of your food budget? Kind of like a Christmas club for buying presents?

MacBean's avatar

Pretty much my whole family gardens and we share amongst each other. My dad does tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, sugarsnap peas, green beans and wax beans. Gramma does cucumbers and several kinds of squash. My cousin does eggplant, lettuce, and more tomatoes. Sometimes someone will do broccoli and cauliflower.

Yum.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’d grow my own food if there were a place to grow it. My neighbourhood, shockingly enough, doesn’t have its own garden like most neighbourhoods in NYC. I have to make do with the thrice-weekly farmers market in front of Brooklyn City Hall.

Frenchfry's avatar

I raised a herb garden and grow my tomatoes up side down on my patio. That’s kinda fun.

NaturallyMe's avatar

Nevermind the taste, i’m trying to set up my own veggie garden for health reasons! (well, healthier food reasons). Wish me luck!! :)

BarnacleBill's avatar

My garden problem is really one of too much shade. I have a fabulous flower garden, but in order to grow vegetables, you need 8 hours of direct sunshine a day. I get about 7, and that shows in the low tomato yield. I wish I had the time to work with a community garden plot, but they are far from where I live, and you have to haul your own water.

@Ron_C, I really like the idea of the food co-op, too. I don’t have much of a food budget to save the money out of, however. We’ve managed to pare the grocery expenses down to about $150 a month in order to save for anticipated home repairs. I wish the money wasn’t all due up-front.

Satchafunkilus's avatar

Mostly, you would need to guarantee that there would be no hard labor at all required.

Satchafunkilus's avatar

Beside, gardening is not difficult at all if you are properly prepared.

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