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Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's Not Growing In Your Vegetable Garden?

If you were to visit my vegetable garden this summer, there are some vegetables you wouldn’t find because I don’t grow them. You might not notice at first that these vegetables aren’t there because my garden will look fully planted. But later you might think about it and realize I don’t grow some commonly grown vegetables.

So since it isn’t always easy to determine what’s missing when you see something like a vegetable garden, I’ll provide you with a list of what I don’t grow in my garden.

Broccoli – I like broccoli, but don’t grow it because no matter what I do, I always end up with little green worms in the broccoli heads. These are the larvae stage of the imported cabbage looper, a pretty little white butterfly that I often see flitting about in my garden in the early summer. Go away, little butterfly, there’s no broccoli at May Dreams Gardens for you to lay your eggs on, eggs that hatch into little green worms.

Oh, yes, I know that an occasional green worm in the broccoli won’t hurt me. Some say it’s just some extra protein and many people knowingly eat insects. I quote, “Entomophagy (the eating of insects) has yet to become a day-to-day activity for most people in the United States and Europe in spite of the superior nutritional content of edible insects compared to other animals.” (source)

I expect that sometime in my lifetime, we’ll be eating insects regularly, but I’m not ready for that right now. I don’t actually have a fear of eating insects, which I assume would be called entomophagyphobia, I just prefer not to have them mixed in with my broccoli.

Cabbage – It is not so much the worms in the cabbage that bug me, though I usually ended up with some worm damage when I grew cabbage, it is that cabbage is a bigger plant than most people realize. It has all those big outer leaves that are usually cut off and composted when you harvest the actual cabbage head, so it takes a lot more room to grow. Plus, I don’t think the taste of homegrown cabbage is much different than store bought cabbage, so why use up good garden space growing it?

Potatoes – This is another crop from the nightshade or Solanaceae family so if I grew it, I would have to figure out how to rotate its location each year so that it doesn’t grow where tomatoes, peppers, or eggplant grew the year before. Plus, like cabbage, I don’t think homegrown potatoes taste much different than good store bought potatoes.

I realize there are a lot of other kinds of potatoes besides the “Idaho’s” or “Russets” that are found in the grocery store that other gardeners might try to convince me to grow. Indeed, I might be tempted to grow some of those ‘gourmet’ potatoes. But then I run into a space problem again.

So I’ll continue to buy my potatoes. But I will scrub them nearly bald before I’ll eat the skins. Back in the day, when I was in college, we went on a field trip to a potato farm and observed the whole process from harvesting to final bagging to learn how a potato goes from the ground to the grocery store shelf. Yes, the potatoes were washed three different times, and then air dried and all that. But I would still wash, scrub, any potato before I eat the skin. (Don’t you wish you had taken some classes like that in college where you got to go “out in the field” to places like potato farms?)

Kohlrabi – Another member of the Crucifereae family, like cabbage and broccoli, so I assumed I would have worm problems, but I will admit that I’ve never actually grown these in my garden. My Dad grew them and ate them, but now that I am remembering, I don’t think I ever even tasted kohlrabi. I might have to rethink this one and grow it in my garden at least once.

Swiss Chard – No excuse here except I’ve never grown it and I’m not sure how to fix it to eat if I did. I looked it up and it is supposed to be a very healthy food to eat, packed with vitamins and fiber and all that. I could be talked into planting swiss chard if someone with experience growing it gave me a few tips.

Pumpkins and other winter squashes – This is purely a space issue for me. Pumpkins and other kinds of squashes are big plants, many with vines that go everywhere. So if I were to grow them, I’d have to try to grow them vertically, which is a problem if the pumpkin or other squash is of any size. Plus I’m not one to store all kinds of winter squashes in a root cellar and cook them up all winter. I’m not sure I even like winter squash, except for spaghetti squash, and I am finding room for that in my garden.

Lima beans – I don’t like them. Not raw, not cooked, not at all.

Artichokes and Okra – I do like these vegetables, but my growing season isn’t long enough to get a decent harvest from either one.

Rhubarb – This is a perennial vegetable plant and though I admire it as a plant and like to see it in other people’s gardens, I’ve never made room for it in mine. Why? I don’t bake much and that’s what you do with rhubarb, cut the stems and use them for pies. Plus, there are all those warnings about how poisonous the leaves are due to the amount of oxalic acid they contain. Wait, would the leaves be toxic to rabbits? If the answer is yes, and the rabbits would eat them, that would be a reason to grow rhubarb.

Asparagus – Another perennial vegetable. People go on and on about how delicious their asparagus tastes when they harvest those tender shoots in the spring. You can even buy special asparagus knives for cutting them for harvest, and another kind of asparagus knife for peeling off the “tough outer layer at the bottom of the asparagus stalks”. Now, usually I’ll grow something special like this, especially if there is some kind of ritual or special tools involved, but I just don’t like asparagus. So it’s another vegetable you won’t find in my garden.

What ISN’T growing in your vegetable garden this year?

26 comments:

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Carol, Carol, Carol....you have the PERFECT garden for a pumpkin....go to your breakfast nook window. Now look out. Past the patio. Past the flower bed...there, now look to the right a little. See that BIG OPEN AREA? That area with nothing but GRASS? PERFECT!!! Get the rotter tiller out and make a bed. A pumpkin patch. Now, I know you will argue that you love to cut grass and you really don't want to get rid of all your lawn, but, pumpkin patches are so beautiful! I love the way the pumpkin vines go every which way. I love to see their creativity. Remember the year we had one creap out of the garden, wind itself up the steps of the deck, cross the deck and go back down the other steps? How cool was that? You can't create that kind of beauty on your own... but Mother Nature can!

Hugs,
Your Little Sister

Pam/Digging said...

Well, I'm not growing any of those vegetables because I still don't have a veggie garden. Sigh. Just not sure where I could put one. (You can give me suggestions when you come down for Spring Fling.) But if I ever did grow a few vegetables, I would do tomatoes in pots (and resign myself to watering them constantly) and Swiss chard, which is so beautiful.

Gina said...

carol - i didnt grow lots of stuff last year mainly because i didnt know how. this year, even though I'm feeling more confident, I won't grow corn, watermelon, or pumpkin because of space limitations. I'm trying swiss chard though and I think you should do the same. It's so beautiful carol! come on! i dont know what to do with it either but we'll figure it out. i promise if you grow it I'll find us some great ways to use it besides just impressing our friends with it.

Shauna McCabe said...

I don't grow veggies that I don't eat , and I don't grow veg with a long growing season. Technically I'm in the same grow zone as you, but I'm in Canada (near Toronto) and our growing season is much shorter than yours -- although our average highs and lows are the same, we have more lows. Its also very erratic -- some of the frost tolerant veg (i.e. broccoli) can't go in the garden even close to the recommended set out date because the ground is still frozen, and it is not unusual to have a heat wave two weeks after the last frost. So, while I try to plant cabbage, broccoli, peas etc. I never get a good crop because the heat gets the plant everytime.

So, ignoring the long season veg (including certain varieties of tomatoes and melon)I can't stand the taste of: eggplant, kohlrabi, zucchini, most squashes, some types of bean (i.e. lima), beets, and finally turnip.

I'll grow whatever else I can fit. I do try to jam it all in there.

Nancy J. Bond said...

I've grown Swiss Chard many times and always had great success with it. It is my favorite garden green and I like it best just boiled or steamed, eaten with a little butter, salt & pepper. It's much like beet greens with a thicker stem and somewhat lighter flavor. The bad side of Swiss Chard for me is that it's a perfect hiding place for ::shudder:: earwigs.

Curtis said...

I am not growing pumpkins this year mostly due to the amount of space to pumpkin ratio. So I totally understand about the space. As far a Lima Beans go, Yuck!

tina said...

carol, nice info about what you don't grow. i too have a space issue with the vining crops. i was going to tell you though, rhubarb is SUCH pretty ornamental plant that take about three feet square. i grow it just to grow it, though it is risky here in tennessee. potatoes i put in a far away garden. they are so easy to grow. i too don't like worms in broccoli, i grew it one year in the fall and didn't have any. but now i don't grow it either, like you.

Entangled said...

I don't like asparagus either, and I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one.

But no potatoes? Fresh new potatoes are sooooo good. And there are so many different kinds. And they're really easy to grow in piles of straw, with no digging and no scrubbing.

Muum said...

What don't I grow? peas - somehow are garden is always a sodden mass of glurp when pea planting time hits.
broccoli for the same reason as you, also the cabbage, it just isn't worth the space. My mother grew kohlrahbi , too, but I don't care for the taste, so I don't grow it, either!
No rhubarb, either, but that is because I just wouldn't use it, and my husband does not think it tastes good.
I think I would like to try the swiss chard, though.

seeded said...

I'm not growing kohlrabi either--I've never had it and it just doesn't sound appealing. I wasn't planning on growing cabbage or beets until just yesterday when I got some free seeds, but I'll be trying them now. No okra either--also never had it. No pumpkins--no space.

Swiss chard is easy. Put the seeds in the ground and it'll grow itself. I like sauteing it with garlic as a side dish, or cutting it up small to put in soups or spiced lentils.

Leslie said...

I like swiss chard because you can use it to make soups or stews look pretty by throwing it in for the last few minutes of cooking...easy to grow and cook and pretty too (I've got Bright Lights out there now). I'm trying to learn to grow potatoes. Since reading Michael Pollan's 'Botany of Desire' a few years ago I've tried to only buy organic potatoes so it seems like something worth growing...I've got my first crop coming up now...we'll see how it goes. I can't grow big vining crops either (space issues) but I did try and will try again to grow little pumpkins on a trellis. Only got a few last year...not sure why.

Christine said...

I've never grown or even eaten kolrabi or swiss chard. But everything else is fair game! I'm going to plant a couple of pumpkins, if they get too big I'll just let them creep out onto the grass.

Matt and Jen said...

Thanks for visiting us Carol. I included the 60 minutes information in the post.-Jen :)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I agree with Seeded--put the seeds in the ground and let the chard grow itself! It's so easy, it's almost ridiculous.

And I saw that someone suggested steaming it with butter... but I prefer mine sauteed in some olive oil, along with minced garlic. Delicious!

gintoino said...

Carol, this year I'm planting my first vegetable garden and I can tell you I basically will be planting any vegetable I eat. I'm not growing potatoes because my vegetable garden isn't big enough for that yet (planing on enlarging it). I don't grow corn because I won't eat it, no rhubarb because I wouldn't know what to do with it (rhubarb isn't used in Portugal), no parsnips because I couldn't find parsnip seeds. I imagine that with time I will be a bit more selective with what I grow, but this year I'm trying any seeds I can put my hands on.

Melanie said...

No zucchini here. My Brooklyn Italian husband hates it and I always end up with these big baseball bat zucchini's that I have to sneak on other peoples doorsteps.

Never tried Rhubarb either but I'd really like to try that one, if only I could see it growing somewhere else first and ask a million questions about it.

Tired Soles said...

Hey carol, you should grow kholrobi, its very yummy!! Infact I think I should go get some seeds for some. I never have the green worm problem here untill leater, after the broccoli has all been picked so if i grow it in the spring, its fine. As for asparagrass, I can only take so much of it BUT fresh out of the gardn it's a whole nother animal. I eat it only if its strait out of the garden!

Things you WON'T find in mine--
Onions. Okra. Leeks.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Hi Carol,

Out of your list, I don't grow most of them because they like cold weather, and here, we sometimes have a very, very short season for cold crops. I do grow okra, swiss chard (you just either steam it or saute it with green onions and garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil) and potatoes. I love home grown potatoes. In fact, I usually grow two or three kinds, and I eat them when they are new (little.)~~Dee

Diana said...

Carol - nice post on what you DON'T grow. I just planted an artichoke -- they are beautiful (and BIG) and fun to grow, so you can watch mine -- or come look at it in person @ Spring Fling. All the comments on chard make me want to grow it as well, my husband would love it and be pleasantly surprised.

Chookie said...

Gosh, I can't actually think of any vegetable that I haven't *tried* to grow, but there are certain plants that I lean to because they grow well here and don't take up too much space. Swiss chard/Silverbeet can be treated like spinach, but it is coarser and stronger in taste. I like to fry an onion till golden, then add finely chopped silver beet.
Happy vegetable adventures!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am really not a vegetable gardener. I take advantage of the local Farmers Market and all of the road side markets when there is fresh veggies to be had. However when I read about your raised bed garden, and it looks so pretty I am almost cajoled into raising at least one plot of veggies.

Jane in Edmonton said...

I'm in zone 3 (Edmonton, Alta.) so we don't have a long enough season for many things, but sometimes I plant them anyway (watermelon) and sometimes it works (canteloupe). You never know what the growing season will really be like - a hot summer or a cool one.

What don't I grow?
Eggplant - I gave up on eggplant as only once in 20 years did I actually get fruit off one.

Cabbage - nobody but me will eat it, plus the worm problem.

Broccoli - worm problem see above. The worms explode when you microwave the broccoli - isn't that fun?

Asparagus - can't afford the space out of my rotation for any more permanent installations (I have one bed dedicated to grapes, strawberries and rhubarb but no room for more perennials). Plus for the amount we eat I can buy lovely asparagus at the farmers market.

Radishes - maggots

Turnips - maggots

Annie in Austin said...

There isn't anything in the vegetable garden yet - unless we can count chives, parsley and cilantro? We'll plant peppers and tomatoes in a few weeks. Philo and I both like Swiss chard and it does pretty well here, looking pretty even if we don't eat any.

During our Illinois years we grew almost every vegetable you mentioned, Carol, including the asparagus, winter squash, rhubarb and Kohrabi. We got some of the produce but were in a non-stop battle with squirrels, raccoons, possums, groundhogs and rabbits. Good luck with your vegetables!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Carol said...

All, thank you to all who commented and provided your own lists of what's not going to be in your own gardens.

I've given in and am planting some swiss chard. I'm not convinced (yet) to add anything else. I'm going to run out of room in my garden!

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Yolanda Elizabet said...

I won't grow potatoes this year as my veggie garden is just not big enough. I'll be growing many veggies though but only the ones that I love eating. Aren't you growing peas and sugar snaps? I am, as I love eating peas fresh from the pod, yummy! And I'm growing broad beans (very easy) and capucijners which I love eating fresh instead of dried. If you love eating salads why not grow rocket (Ruccola)it's very easy to grow and tastes great.

BTW You can prepare Swiss Chard the same way as Spinach. The young leaves are great (raw) in a salad. Thick stems can be cooked seperately and are very tasty too.
Happy Swiss Charding in the veggie garden and in the kitchen, Carol!

Poul said...

Rhubarb and strawberry jam is a great combo. We grow four kinds of rhubarbs and only the "old-fashioned" one is high in acids. The German varieties like Elmblitz and Elmsfeuer (no idea if you can get them in the US though) are very low in acids, don't take up much space (1-1.5 foot square) and make fab pies. We grow them in the flower beds as filler plants.

Don't think a rabbit will eat rhubarb leaves unless you force feed it though.

/Poul