The Reality of Vegetable Gardening: Unveiling the Secrets
The Pressure of Unrealistic Standards for Vegetables
Have you ever found yourself intimidated by fashion magazines filled with beautiful celebrities and models who are then photoshopped to remove every little imperfection? Or perhaps an Instagram account where the home is filled with natural light, dust-free, and no mislaid items anywhere?
I must admit that I don’t like to follow accounts like that as they promote an unrealistic view and leaves me feeling like something is wrong with me when I don’t look perfect and my house doesn’t either.
Escaping Unreal Expectations
This type of unreal perfection extends to the garden too! Just between you and me, I’ve been to many gardens that are highlighted on social media and they never look quite as good in person.
Believe it or not, vegetables also fall into this unrealistic realm when shown in magazines and online. Articles filled with photographs of perfectly-sized vegetables without a speck of dirt on them can be intimidating to the average vegetable gardener.
Unearthing the Dirty Secret of Vegetable Gardening
Well, I’m here to tell you the truth and reveal two dirty secrets of vegetable gardening with some assistance from my little helper.
Meet Lily: A Gardening Companion
This is my granddaughter Lily who loved to help me in the garden when she was little. She was always a willing helper when it came time to harvest vegetables from my garden.
Toward the end of spring, it was time to harvest the last head of broccoli, pick the carrots, pull the garlic, cut parsley, and harvest the first of our blackberries.
The Real Harvest
This is what our harvest looked like. Not particularly photo-worthy for a magazine or social media, is it? But, this is the reality of what it looks like.
The Dirty Secret: Vegetables Grow in Dirt
If you haven’t guessed the secret about vegetable gardening – it’s that it is DIRTY!
Think about it – vegetables grow in the dirt. They don’t come out clean. In fact, it can take a while to clean the dirt away.
Lily was excited to help me clean the vegetables, so she would fill her ‘My Little Pony’ cup over and over and pour them over the carrots.
In fact, freshly harvested vegetables leave dirt behind on counters, floors too!
And those shiny, clean garden tools and spotless gloves? They don’t exist in a real garden.
Now, here is another secret of vegetable gardening…
The Imperfect Shapes and Sizes are Normal
“Not all the vegetables are the same size and come out unblemished.”
Here are four carrots that I harvested from the same garden. As you can see, they are all different sizes.
The tiny ones, came from an area where I accidentally dropped a small pile of seeds. The large one was a result of an area in the garden that received too much water and the carrot was so big that it broke off as I attempted to pull it out.
Of course, any decent photo would display only the ‘normal-sized’ carrots – but that is not necessarily the truth of what a real garden harvest would look like.
Lily’s Tigger was excited to try some carrots.
Garlic of All Sizes
Here is another example. Our crop of garlic was bountiful. But, notice that there are not all uniform sizes.
While the majority of the garlic harvest is made up of normal-sized garlic heads – there are some very small and some giant heads.
The Illusion of Garden Perfection
But of course, that is not what you see when people typically show off their garden harvest – especially when they are to be photographed.
First, only the most attractive vegetables are shown – ones with no blemishes and uniform size. Second, all the dirt is removed. And finally, the decorative dish towels come out for an attractive background.
I have several decorative dish towels that have never seen a dish and I use them when I photograph vegetables, herbs, etc.
Here is my ‘perfect’ garlic harvest. What is interesting is what you DON’T see. All of them are nicely shaped, roughly the same size, and most of the dirt is gone. This is NOT what they look like when they come in from the garden.
The Best Advice is to Embrace Imperfection
So remember that vegetables aren’t perfectly clean, they may have blemishes and come in all sizes and shapes. So, when you harvest vegetables, don’t worry about perfect-looking vegetables. Remember, it’s the taste that matters!