Home Grown vs Store Bought

One of the major reasons people like to grow their own vegetables is the taste. Home grown is supposed to blow you away after a lifetime of eating worn out store bought vegetables. And I must confess that sometimes it does – but sometimes it doesn’t.

I got thinking about what’s better and what’s not when I harvested the first sweet corn on Sunday. I had no idea if the corn was ripe or not but figured the best way to find out was to pick a couple of ears. The verdict? Yep, it’s ripe and golly-gee-willakers, it’s much better than store bought. So sweet, so tender, so really, really good.

First sweet corn of the season

First sweet corn of the season

Cucumbers are now ripening – first one today. MUCH better than store bought, both in flavour and texture.

First cucumber

First cucumber

I’m now getting a steady stream of tomatoes – they can be a lot better than store bought, but they have to be harvested and eaten at the right time. Leaving them on the kitchen counter until they get a bit mushy doesn’t yield the best results. (I know, I know.)

Tomatoes and cucumbers - salad anyone?

Tomatoes and cucumbers – salad anyone?

Broccoli is definitely better home grown than store bought; young, old, tight bunch or gone to flowers, it’s all better. Even the stems are really good. Tender and sweet and just yummy. Potatoes ditto. So much more flavoursome if you eat them out of your own dirt. Strawberries – my oh my – yes, these are better home grown (unless you let them rot on the vine or in the fridge). Beans, somewhat better.

But some food isn’t noticeably better if it’s home grown (IMHO). Greens are pretty much the same if I buy them in a plastic bag or pick them from my garden. This includes spinach, silverbeet and lettuces. It’s nice that they stay fresh on the plant rather than wilting in the fridge and I bet the nutritional value is better but the taste difference doesn’t rock my world. Asian Greens are fantastic from my back garden but since I’ve never bought many of them I can’t in all honestly judge.

Asian Greens

Asian Greens

Onions taste like onions to me. Store bought and home grown have some variety in heat and sweetness, but neither outshines the other.

Red onion

Red onion

There are a few veggies that it’s nice to harvest from my backyard but that aren’t as good as those I buy at the shops. Kohlrabi and radishes fall in this category. I think there are a couple of reasons for this. I don’t water enough for these so they get woody. Also, I like to harvest when I’m ready to eat, not when the food is at its peak. Kolhrabi and radishes take affront at this attitude and get tough and hot if I ignore them for too long. Rather temperamental little things.

Old, woody radish

Old, woody radish

I suppose I could go on with other food I’m harvesting now (or in the future/past) but I don’t think specifics matter too much. The point is, those items that taste a lot better will keep getting plot space dedicated to them. If they aren’t better it’s more about convenience: if they keep for a long time in the ground (like greens) and I can harvest them whenever I am in the mood, they’ll also get plot space. Those veggies that don’t taste a lot better and put pressure on me to harvest or else! might find themselves squeezed out over time.

Gardening’s a ruthless business – space is not unlimited so I’m going to explain to my plants that it’s either perform or make way for the next guy and see if they raise their game or take a back seat next season.

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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8 Responses to Home Grown vs Store Bought

  1. Coop Poop says:

    Sooo…basically your plants are only as good as their last yield? Very…uh…er…capitalistic….hee hee… 😉

    Anyway – not to start anything – the whole garden-ful of homegrown food looks to die for! You’re one hell of a gardener!

    • Absolutely – no communism in my food plots. If you want to contribute to the best of your ability and not to my dinner plate I suggest a council run community garden for you!

      My garden-ful of goodness may not be to die for, but it is tasty and healthy. I do miss hamburgers and french fries sometimes though. Good food comes in many guises 🙂

      • Coop Poop says:

        Are you on some program where you can’t just go into town and get yourself a burger and fries? Do they not sell that stuff down under?

        • I can get a burger and fries (and we have the best American chains here: McDonalds and Burger King) but I feel so guilty with all those veggies screaming out to be eaten that I’m eating a lot less meat than normal and don’t want to grab any fast food and… well, it’s all just gotten out of control.

  2. I agree that with constraints of time and place I only plant the vegetables that I really appreciate fresh from the garden. Mostly its taste but also its convenience. Some I have given up on because of lack of water, after one early crop of radish that I love, I don’t sow any more and I have given up on beetroot for the same reason.
    We use no pesticides so its good to know what you are eating is good. I can be a bit mean though. My husband wanted to give carrots to the donkeys up the road and he had to go and buy them from the supermarket because I wouldn’t let him use ours.

    • 🙂 Poor donkeys! I know what you mean about being mean. I gladly share things that are prolific and quick growers – lettuce for everyone! – but something like carrots that spend months slowly working towards an edible stage is a totally different matter.

  3. glad you are laying down the rules there. those veggies need to know who is in control. It is not only taste though – I am sure your home grown vegetables have a lot more nutrients.

    • I’m sure you’re right. They have more nutrients and less nasties. I was on a Farmgate tour not long ago and a farmer told me all their veggies are dipped in chlorine before being sent to any of the grocery stores. They had no choice, the stores demanded that in order to kill any critters. I hate to think “fresh” food is sprayed, dipped and then put in refrigeration for ages before I eat it. I’d rather put up with some underperforming food than that.

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