7 Vegetables That Taste Better If You Grow Your Own

7 Vegetables That Taste BetterSo it’s April here in England. Because I’ve been away from home a bit this year the vegetable garden isn’t up to where it would normally be, in particular I’m yet to start growing seedlings which I typically begin in February. But hey it’s April.  You can plant just about anything in April if you put your mind to it.   So it’s time to get your hands dirty and grow your own veg.

This begs the all important question . . .  What are you going to grow?

You can grow things for lots of reasons.  For the pleasure of growing them, to save you money, to play with your kids or to improve your diet . . . Personally one of my main criteria is to choose things that just taste far superior when home grown.  I’ve got an upcycled greenhouse, three small raised beds and a home built salad tower.  So I can’t be wasting space on things that aren’t delicious.

Here are seven of my favorite vegetables to grow for superior taste (pedantic warning: there are a couple of sneaky fruit and a grain in there).

7) Salad (and lettuce)

SaladIf you have never grown anything before start with salad.  It is incredibly easy, cheap and fast, and it tastes just fabulous.  Instead of perpetually buying (then wasting) bags of salad it’s just sitting there waiting for you.  For me the key to it tasting amazing is to eat it quite early and let it come again.  Really spicy home grown rocket is spectacular!

6) Zucchini (courgette)


Every year I grow too many zucchinis.  You think two plants can’t be enough for a home . .  and then you are wrong.  You fry them, you dice them, you make courgette soup.  Give them soil, sun and water and they just keep growing.  I try to pick them a little bit smaller than most people as this way they are super sweet and soft, nothing like the leathery ones in the shops.

5) Carrots


I was skeptical when we first planted carrot seed.  They are so cheap in the shops and I just didn’t think it was a decent use of our limited space.  I was wrong, my wife was right.  Our carrots last year were amazing.  Watching my three year old son dig them up was a joy.  And every time I ate them I revelled in just how sweet they were.  I’d go for a baby variety.

4) Eggplant (aubergine)

EggplantThe only reason I planted aubergines in my greenhouse a few years ago was because everyone told me you couldn’t grow them here.  That first year I had at least 40 fruit off two plants.  For a shop bought eggplant they often recommend salting the skin to remove the bitterness.  That is not the case for home grown ones.  They are just wonderful, and the plant itself has the most beautiful leaves and spikes.  I pick them small while they are still shiny, and let a few go huge later in the year.

3) Strawberries


Here in the UK you can buy strawberries all year.  The out of season ones that come from Spain in winter are just a bit nothing. They taste all watery.  When you start to get the UK ones around May the standard improves a lot.  Of course they still aren’t a touch on the ones you grow yourself.  Our strawberry season only lasts a month or two here, but it is so good.  I like to eat them on warm days.  A large number don’t even make it inside.

2) Tomatoes

TomatoesTomatoes are often the reason people get into growing vegetables.  This is a little strange in that they take daily care and some serious loving to get them through to fruit.  But then again they are just so wonderful, they are my favourite thing to grow.  I love the smell of them on my hands as I pinch them out throughout the year.  And home grown tomatoes are just fabulous to eat. They are so sweet, you can eat them warm from the vine and if you get them right they literally do pop in your mouth.  You can see some of mine in my food waste explainer video.

1) Sweetcorn

SweetcornFresh sweetcorn is just EPIC!  (Yes, I dropped an allcaps on you, perhaps my first).  If you have never eaten sweetcorn within an hour of harvesting you should try it some time.  When corn is picked its sugars start turning to starch.  Something like 30% of the sweetness goes within the first day.  You need to have space so you can plant it in blocks and decent sun, but if you have that it’s easy.  The taste is just a world away from anything you’ll get in a shop.

There you have it.  That’s seven vegetables I think taste far better when you grow them yourself.  I know most things taste better home grown, but these ones really pop for me.  How about you?

What do you think tastes heavenly when home grown?

I’ll write more on this topic later as I just adore growing things.  But if you are looking for inspiration go check out Mavis Butterfield’s wonderful blog OneHundredDollarsAMonth.  I am literally green with envy at the size and majesty of her veg patch. #iwantabiggergarden

  • http://www.EcoReality.org/wiki/User:Jan_Steinman Jan Steinman


    • Lindsay Wilson

      Ahhh, when I make it back to australia. Pretty much need to grow them inside her, which is a real shame

      • http://www.EcoReality.org/wiki/User:Jan_Steinman Jan Steinman

        We have a 330 square metre greenhouse that’s 3 metres high. We grow melons and cucumbers on trellises.

        But they can be cloched, as well. All you need is a big sheet of clear poly and a bunch of stakes to “float” the poly above the vines.

        I feel guilty about bringing new plastic into the world, but the poly could even come from the dump — a lot of vapour barrier poly ends up there!

        • Lindsay Wilson

          330 m2??!! Oh that is just epic. It is only for your own production or are you selling/swapping stuff. How self sufficient do you reckon you are?

          • http://www.EcoReality.org/wiki/User:Jan_Steinman Jan Steinman

            The greenhouse is split into three rooms, with direct planting on either end and propagation in the middle, where it’s warmest.

            We sell wholesale to three local grocers, and retail at two outdoor markets.

            On a gross basis, we are more than self-sufficient, but that includes selling stuff to get money to buy stuff from the store that we don’t grow, like olive oil, chocolate, grains, etc.

            Here’s more than you ever wanted to know about our production.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Awesome. Don’t beat yourself up about the plastic. In embodied energy terms that has far lower carbon than either glass or polycarbonate. How long do you think the polyethelene will last?

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Those stats are out of control. You must spend more time on them than the production. I see goats milk does well. How does it work? Free labor in return for produce?

          • http://www.EcoReality.org/wiki/User:Jan_Steinman Jan Steinman

            The statistics pages are all dynamic. I enter raw harvest, sales, labour, etc. — all the stuff you need to keep track of anyway — and the computer does the rest.

            Goat dairy is consistent, and is something I can manage on my own if we have people problems. That’s why produce didn’t perform last year.

            We have different levels of involvement, from a couple-hour work-party to multi-year apprenticeships. Generally, we feed and house volunteers, with a small stipend for people who stay the season, and a possible equity share for people who stay five years. (Haven’t had any of those yet!)

            I do “beat myself up over plastic.” We don’t use any new plastic packaging at all. Our milk goes out in reusable glass bottles. Our market goods get put in re-used grocery bags. Our plant starts are in soil blocks, put into compostable low-peat pots for sale.

            Properly-treated greenhouse plastic can last a decade without care. We’re gathering old patio doors for the next gen greenhouse, because I suspect poly film will not be available in another ten years.

          • Lindsay Wilson

            Fascinating. How much land are you rocking?

          • http://www.EcoReality.org/wiki/User:Jan_Steinman Jan Steinman

            Right now, about 220 square metres. :-)

            We have 43 acres, but over half is riparian or young forest, with much of the rest in hay or pasture. We have one small field that we’re developing, but most of the produce comes out of the greenhouse.

  • Dave Cockayne

    Chillis and garlic, I’ve found by far the best bang for buck, a single chilli plant in a pot can get you upto a couple of hundred chillis, 3 chilli plants save me about £50 per year. If you grow them in pots you can overwinter them indoors for bumper harvests over the next couple of years.

    Spinach and Swiss Chard are my staple leafy veg along with spring onions for salads and stirfries.

    Other than that there are some really great varieties of beans that will keep you well fed all summer and freeze well if you have enough room to grow a year’s supply.