Why do I garden? To be sure, I do it because I want to be able to supply my family with the freshest, most sustainably and naturally grown food that I can buy. I also do it because I love to get outdoors and dig in the dirt; it’s a great way to exercise, be exposed to sunlight and beneficial microbes. It’s also THE best place to gather my thoughts and communicate with God (hmmm…that gives me another idea for a future post!).
But, I also garden for another simple reason: taste – if you grow your own, you know what I’m talking about. Nothing compares to the taste of perfectly ripened, fresh from the garden produce that you grow yourself!
After all of these years of gardening, I’ve come up with six crops that I absolutely LOVE the home-grown version of, and are MUST–HAVES for planting in my garden every year. Won’t you follow along and see if you agree?
- Heirloom Tomatoes. I love heirloom tomato varieties. They are sweet, juicy, smoky and fruity, and come in a variety of amazingly beautiful colors and shapes. While they may not be as prolific as their hybrid counterparts, what they lack in production is easily made up for in taste – there’s nothin’ quite like the taste of a home-grown heirloom tomato, in my opinion.
2. Potatoes. If you’ve ever grown your own potatoes, you know what I mean. From the minute you start preparing them, you can tell you’re in for a treat! They have a wonderfully crisp texture, when you cut into them. When cooked, they are creamy and buttery, with out-of-this-world flavor. I haven’t found one person who has ever tasted a home-grown potato and doesn’t have a story to tell about its wonders.
3. Tree fruit. Apricots, plums, nectarines, peaches, pluots, and apples are some of the tree fruits I grow out at Whit’s Acres. Like candy on a branch – that’s what I’d compare these babies to when they are perfectly sun-ripened and ready to eat. Each heirloom variety has its own unique smell, taste, and texture – things that make them even more of a priority for me to have in my garden.
4. Beets. I know. Do you hate them? I used to, too… until I tasted one freshly harvested from my garden and roasted. Wow! So sugary sweet, with just a touch of earthiness. And the beet greens? Fabulous! Mix them together with some fresh shallots and an orange juice-garlic vinaigrette and you’ve got one pretty amazing salad. I love these things!
5. Beans, the kind that you can dry. Oh, man. If you haven’t grown your own soup beans, you’ve got to get them in the ground next chance you get! Once again, the texture and taste of home-grown dry beans are incomparable. They are silky smooth in texture and provide a depth of flavor that you just can’t get anywhere else. My favorites to grow are black-eyed peas and rattlesnake beans. They are so easy to grow and produce like crazy, too!
6. Brussels Sprouts. I know. They’re an acquired taste, right? Maybe, if you’ve only ever had the store-bought kind. Home-grown ones, on the other hand, are quite addicting! They are amazingly sweet with a more subtle cabbage flavor. My favorite variety is “Falstaff” (not pictured here), which is super sweet, mild, and a bit nutty tasting. They are getting more and more difficult for me to grow here where I live, due to warmer weather patterns, but I will not give up on growing them, because the homegrown varieties just don’t compare with any others that I’ve ever tasted. They are that good!
How about you? What fruits and vegetables do you grow for taste? What do you grow that is far superior in taste, texture, and smell to anything you’ve ever purchased? What other crops would you add to this list?