How many tomatoes can I realistically eat? This is the thought that crossed my mind as I clicked through pages of heirloom tomato seeds on the web. I have the opportunity to build a new garden this year. I have a naked backyard waiting for me under the layer of ice that hides it’s potential at the moment. It’s a fair question. I mean I love tomatoes, but how many plants do I really need? I read the descriptions of each variety, taking notes on the days from germination to yield. Plotting a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors and time of harvest. How big will my raised beds be? What materials will I use to build them? How many kinds of vegetables will I plant this year? What vegetables do I eat the most? Which vegetables take up a lot of space as they grow? Which vegetables can I get a the farmer’s market for really cheap? All questions that need to be answered so I can formulate my plan: the backyard grocery.
It’s an interesting list of notes. I eat a lot of vegetables. I get excited thinking about the food I am going to grow. I had my first garden the year before I went plant-strong. I can say for certain that I didn’t eat nearly as many vegetables on a daily basis before I planted my own garden. There is something marvelous about fresh picked flavors to make you change your mind about veggies. Tomatoes, for example, come in so many flavors. I just couldn’t get over how different they all were. Standing in the dirt, smelling the leaves of each plant, savoring the flavor of each sampling, I fell in love with vegetables. My vegetables. The vegetables I grew, in my yard.
Maybe it was the pride that I grew them myself. Maybe it was the sheer unadulterated flavors. Nothing added. Just vegetables. It might have been the array of colors and my penchant for making art projects out of my plate. That summer I took hundreds of still shots of the mighty tomato. Since then I’ve tried so many new varieties of vegetables. I’ve had fun preparing them, photographing my creations and most of all, eating them!
I often hear people say: I don’t like vegetables.
This always strikes me as interesting. The palette of flavors to choose from is so wide and varied, lumping them all together with a blanket statement like that seems wildly unfair and not fully investigated. Maybe you grew up eating vegetables out of a can, over cooked and just plain. Maybe you ‘had’ to eat brussels sprouts even though you hated them. Maybe you would like them steam better than roasted or raw, maybe sauteed with lemon juice? My suggestion… start looking at vegetables in a new light. Try a little exercise when you have some time. Slice some raw vegetables, some familiar and a few new to you. Close your eyes and take a bite. Is it sweet? Maybe spicy like a radish? What is the texture like? If you had to describe it to someone who never had this food could you? How many adjectives can you attach to it? What about the scent of the vegetable? What might you discover if you took some time to investigate vegetables? What do you have to lose?