Thursday, March 29, 2018

What Should I Grow?

I'm constantly being asked by new gardeners what they should grow. Frankly, I can't answer that except to say, "That depends." It depends upon the environment and climate, the skill and preferences of the gardener. What's good for me isn't a good choice for others. 

Besides, I've covered this topic before. But I'll relent and address it one more time, only because it's spring and many gardeners are getting antsy. 

Here's some thoughts on how I decide....,,,

1- Grow what grows in my environment. Although I love to eat blueberries, they don't grow here easily. I love hazelnuts and black walnut, but they don't grow here at all. So to insist on growing things that won't produce is a waste of effort, resources, time, and results in disappointment and frustration. 

2- Grow basics. I cook with a lot of onions, so it makes sense to grow them as opposed to buying them. Same for tomatoes and bananas. We like to eat baby potatoes, and as a result we go a lot of them, enough to satisfy our yearly consumption. We like eggs....real fresh it makes sense to keep hens, especially since I want the manure. 

3- Include those expensive to purchase items. Now that I use herbs in cooking, it makes economic sense to grow my own. Fresh herbs in the store are very pricey, at least here in Hawaii they are. Dried or frozen herbs don't compare to fresh. Therefore I grow our own parsley, basil, dill, sage, cilantro, rosemary, oregano, etc. 

4- Definitely grow hard to find foods. I seldom see pipinolas for sale, I guess because people deem it "poor people" food. But we eat them regularly, so I grow my own. Snow peas are difficult to find and are pricy. And I never find yellow or white beets in the stores. Another item we like are stuffing tomatoes, never seen in the stores. Yacon, radish greens, radish pods, pea tendrils, edible flowers = more things never seen in the stores. Growing our own makes things like these appear on our table on a regular basis. Duck eggs, rabbit, and baby lamb are more foods never seen at my local supermarket. 

5- Focus on the things we like to eat. Although I find fresh green beans and kale a cinch to grow in abundance, we don't eat them in abundance. So it makes more sense to grow things that we prefer to eat. 

6- Include those hot items for trading and selling. There are things that we seldom eat ourselves (or eat in small quantities)  but are popular nonetheless. Peppers, both sweet and hot. Squashes. Pumpkins. Sweet potatoes. 

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