Fruits, Not Vegetables, The Way To Rich Rewards Gardening tips


II never cease to amaze how the cultural norms of gardening are often very different from the measurable reality of its results. Convinced of the weight of tradition, we do all kinds of things that are unlikely to give us the results we want, just because they have always been done that way. Breaking out of these cultural assumptions might not only make you a better gardener, but open up all kinds of new experiences. The best example is probably fruit cultivation.

According to a stack of market research, novice gardeners looking to grow edibles will consistently choose to grow vegetables over fruits. The perception is that annual crops, such as carrots, onions, and potatoes, are much easier to grow and offer more rewards than perennial fruit crops. When it comes to what people describe as “rewards,” they tend to describe better flavor, money savings, and the joy of the experience itself.

Books, catalogs and garden centers, guided by this research, will give priority to market gardening over fruit growing at every opportunity, in order to give customers what they say they want. Although, somewhat paradoxically, according to own measures of customer satisfaction, fruits are far superior to vegetables in almost every respect. I often think it’s a bit of a vicious cycle that can lead to failure for many newbies.

Rich reward: Gooseberries are mostly found in expensive food halls. Photograph: Bjorn Wylezich / Alamy

Let’s start by looking at the cost savings. The most expensive items in the produce section are not vegetables, like carrots, potatoes or onions, but fancy fruits like berries. As the vast majority of supermarkets tend to sell a very small selection of varieties, the only way to find more unusual shapes, such as gooseberries or currants, Boysen berries or wild strawberries, is to make a tour in a specialized food hall, where the prices can be positively tempting for these gastronomic delicacies. So growing fruit is not only likely to save you money, but also to give you much more weird and wonderful flavors at the same time.

There is a similar situation with regard to ease of care. Plant an apple tree properly, keep it well watered for the first two years, and for the next half century it will provide you with apples no matter what you do (or don’t do). Sure, pruning, thinning, and fertilizing will increase your yields, but they’re not absolutely necessary for the harvest.

Compare that with potatoes where, traditionally at least, you would buy the seed tubers, cut them, dig the plot, plant them, dig and water and feed them every year, and still be likely to have a devastated crop. by rust before harvest. The work-harvest relationship is unassailable. This annual purchase of seeds and other inputs almost always dwarfs the cost of buying the finished product at a supermarket – and in a few short seasons, it will easily exceed the cost of a fruit shrub or tree.

If you like to grow vegetables, great. Me too. However, if you are really looking to get maximum reward for minimum contribution, I would say hands down that it has to be a fruit.

Follow Jacques on Twitter @Botanygeek



Terri S. Tomasini