Comparative Value of Different Crops

Comparative Value of Different Crops

There is no point in growing anything you don’t like or more than you need. Yet many crops are grown just because they are always grown. Look round any allotment site and see rows of leathery beetroot, rotting cabbages and withered runner beans hanging by bolted lettuces. So before wasting time, effort and money decide why you are growing vegetables. If it is for the fresh air and exercise then fine, grow anything, but if it is to save money, produce pollution-free food, fresh salads or get maximum nutrition then you must select carefully what you are to grow.

Comparative Value of Different Crops Time is often more limited than space. A large town garden or allotment can feed a family all year if unlimited time is available, but will provide very little if few hours are spent on it. Growing a few crops in quantity takes much less time than growing a little each of many. A good plan is to list the vegetables you already buy each week, which you could grow yourself and how much these cost you in a year. If you think you might like a vegetable but have never tried it, buy some before going to the effort of growing it.

Many books offer tables of expected yields, but these cannot be taken as more than guidelines, as yields can vary enormously. Some years all of a crop fails, and another year you are eating it till it comes out of your ears. Still, some comparison of expected yields does help with initial planning, so you can decide roughly how much ground to give to each crop.

It is pointless to judge which crops are best to grow for saving money because you cannot give them a fixed value: the price fluctuates, with the earliest of any crop being the most expensive and the price dropping as main crops mature. Local scarcities and gluts can change the cash value by ten fold. Generally, though, crops such as courgettes, broccoli and French beans, are very expensive to buy compared to the cost of growing them. Most root crops and main crop potatoes, on the other hand, are incredibly cheap to purchase, even organic ones. Peas and sweet corn are expensive and time-consuming to grow, but nothing you can buy is as good as your own. Similarly, bought lettuce and other salad crops are never as crisp. Ultimately, real quality — especially freshness — is obtainable only from your own garden. In many ways, luxury crops and salads are the best vegetables to concentrate on, while onions, roots and main crop potatoes could perhaps be left out unless time and ground are amply available.

Comparative Value of Different Crops Nutrition from vegetables is affected by their variety, treatment and freshness. Anything grown organically at home of a good variety will always carry more nutritive value than shop-bought produce, as well as fewer residues. However, to get the maximum vitamin value from a small space concentrate on carrots, spinach and chards for vitamin A, peas, onions and potatoes for vitamin Bl, broccoli for vitamin B2, potatoes and peas for vitamin B3 and broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale for vitamin C.

Where space is at a premium, the best all-round value comes from carrots, saladings and climbing peas and beans. If time is very limited then courgettes and squashes, beans especially drying haricots and broad beans, and early potatoes can all be grown with little work or attention. Onion sets, garlic and shallots are equally easy and take little time providing the soil is not very weedy.

06. January 2011 by admin
Categories: Vegetable Gardening | Tags: | Comments Off on Comparative Value of Different Crops

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