It’s the day after Valentine’s, and the long-stemmed red roses that were £1.99 at the greengrocer’s yesterday are now reduced to 49p. He has a lot left.

I’m a regular visitor these days and notice such things. Down at the allotment, you see, all the plants (except the weeds) have now either been withered by the frost, drowned by the flood, or eaten by creatures with various numbers of legs. Everything in the vegetable compartment of the Reluctant Gardener’s fridge today, therefore, has come from the greengrocer’s.

There’s nothing wrong with buying one’s vegetables rather than growing them. It’s the old-fashioned way, honoured for generations in both my and Mr Mandy Sutter’s families.

But it feels different now. It has all been spoiled.

Carrots for allotment blog

Knobbly cool forms

Yesterday, planning a Valentine’s Day stew (attentive readers may remember that stews are my main attraction in Mr MS’s eyes), I stood in the greengrocer’s happily transferring the knobbly cool forms of carrots and swede to my wire basket. Next came a crackly pack of green beans.

Another vegetable was needed, however. Mr MS and I have been low-carbing it recently, and are trying to avoid spuds.

I spotted a familiar entity lurking behind the shrink wrapped packs of beetroot. Purple, white and whiskery it was, with a rounded belly.

That’s when I found myself behaving the way Dog MS does when she sees a cat on a wall and thinks she might be expected to chase it. I averted my gaze and scuttled past.
I took refuge behind a display of cauliflowers.

Cauliflower for allotment blog

Arrested in mid explosion

I picked one up. A pale green bomb, arrested in mid-explosion. I pretended interest in it, but really I was in turmoil, thinking about the turnip and our love/hate relationship. We were close last year, you see, but as winter drew on, I began to realise that my initial feelings had had more to do with gratitude than with passion.

And yet… turnip is low-carb, cheap and nutritious. It contains, they say, more vitamin C than an orange (although they say that about a lot of things). It is certainly very good for me. There was every reason to turn back. But I couldn’t do it. I made my excuses and left.

I felt a bit wierd. Why couldn’t I have been more casual about the encounter? But the truth is, I just don’t know how to ‘be’ around turnips any more. It’s a similar story with spinach.

This is odd, because my relationship with spinach was a lot less complicated. Even though it made itself available daily over the summer, familiarity never bred contempt. Dad never liked it, of course (‘mushy’), but I was always pleased to see it. Let’s face it: I loved the veg.

Spinach for allotment blog

Pent up

And yet, when I see spinach  these days, with its green wink, all leaf and stalk and pent up cytoplasmic fructose, I walk on by. I can’t even bring myself to say hello.

This is all quite unexpected.

It’s easy to see why most gardeners would rather suffocate in their own manure heap than buy a vegetable they are growing whilst it’s in season.

But who knew it was going to prove so hard to buy them at other times too?

Dad and I have been planning Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, runner beans, broad beans, cauli, garlic, cabbages and onions for this year.

Allotment humour: veg I will never grow

Veg I will never grow

Does this mean I’ll have to go without all these veg for the whole rest of the year once our crops are finished?

And as the years go by, and we try more things, will I become more and more limited, only able to eat the stuff we either can’t or don’t want to grow?

Bananas spring to mind, as do Shiitake mushrooms. Oh, and peas, which Dad thinks ‘aren’t worth the bother, for the few pathetic spoonfuls you get out of it at the end.’

But perhaps not. After all, I have Mr MS, who will go to some lengths to get his hands on a good stew (e.g. live with me) and is thankfully not troubled by ridiculous sensitivities. Or at least not the same ridiculous sensitivities as me.

And failing that, it’s always possible that Shiitake mushrooms, bananas and peas might go together quite nicely in Mr MS’s second favourite meal: curry.