When it comes to growing vegetables I often get asked, “Why bother? They’re so cheap at the shop.”
Besides better taste, better nutrition, lack of herbicides/pesticides/fungicides, and absence of chemical treatments to prolong storage life and/or hasten ripening, there is still economic value in growing your own vegies.
Pumpkins (squash to North Americans) are one of my favourite crops, simply because they don’t ask anything of you for the whole growing season. If you start them in a nice patch of nutrient-rich compost, you won’t need to revisit them until picking time!
All 13 of the pumpkins below (plus a 14th that we ate a couple of weeks ago) came from a couple of vines that self-seeded out of a pile of compost.
I weighed one of the average-sized pumpkins, and it was 6 kg. So 14 pumpkins add up to about 84 kg. This type of pumpkin is currently selling in the supermarket for $2.49/kg (I’m using commercial produce prices, not the higher organic prices).
So that was over $200 worth of pumpkins that just popped up out of the dirt by themselves and waited for us to pick them!
These will last us for months, making lots of beautiful soups, stews and roasts through the winter.
Other low-effort crops I love include sweet potatoes, snow peas, climbing beans, sugar-snap peas, cherry tomatoes, chokoes, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes and rhubarb, plus herbs like bay, parsley, mint and rosemary. They all seem to thrive without any need for care from sowing right through to harvest. Some even cut out the sowing step for me, and propagate themselves!
What are your favourite low-effort/high-payback crops?