Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Summer Days and Good Eating

Each time that we pick the first results of what we have grown in our productive garden, I am amazed – even before we have tasted it – of the enormous difference between home-grown and shop-bought produce.

New potatoes whose skin falls away like silk at the touch of a knife. The coolness of broad (fava) bean pods as you pick and break them open, to reveal pearly beans the size of a little finger nail nestling in a bed of soft ‘fur’ – and oh, the taste! Melt-in-the-mouth, with no hint of the earthiness that comes when the beans are old and horny (though I have created a recipe to deal with those).

The crisp crunchiness of cos lettuce straight from plot to table; the tang of young rocket (arugula) leaves; juicy pink radishes that bite the tongue; the creamy flavour of baby spinach added to salad, or chopped and cooked as a hot vegetable, even as it runs to seed; finger-sized carrots cooked whole or eaten raw; a medley of shredded cabbage, bright green and steaming on the plate; luscious strawberries to follow – just enough to top baby meringues, slathered in cream. The seasonality of it all.

As one crop ends, another comes on stream; although this year, they are overlapping – we have such a choice. To be able to serve a miscellany of any three or four vegetables at any one meal makes hours or cultivation worthwhile. I become adept at pairing and mixing them; a taste of many rather than a dishful of one.

We pass the equinox, and midsummer’s day; suddenly July is upon us. The peas, runner (pole) and purple-podded beans are in flower; the smokey-blue ‘cavalo nero’ black tuscan kale will soon be cropping, as will beetroot, turnips, courgettes and marrows, garlic, onions, shallots and winter squash. The figs swell; apples, pears and plums announce a bounty-to-be come September; grapes hang in bunches as yet no more than pin-head size; hazel nuts are still encased in green frilly frocks.

We live in a vegetable and fruit heaven. No wonder I have no time to ‘make art’. There is always weeding, sowing, planting and picking, meals to prepare and surplus produce to preserve for use in the winter months ahead, But we eat well, and frugally, and for now, that is enough.


  1. oh, but I do think you make art! amazing garden :)

  2. when am I coming fo tea? I picked my salads from the tub outside fortea last nigh..bliss...have you discovered the read seed company they are wonderful for unusual and old varieties of seeds....hope life is treating you well...H

  3. Your vegetable plot looks beautiful.
    I have been picking a bumper harvest of red currants this week.

  4. You had my mouth watering with your descriptions of your treasures from your garden!

  5. Yes, I agree with Jeane, your gardenering has created wonderful art!

    This city dweller will visit a downtown farmers' green market tomorrow, hoping that it will soon be ripe tomato time. Nothing, nothing like a fresh ripe tomato.

    It's great to visit your site!

  6. Oh, I am so envious!! My paltry results just don't figure on the radar! Though my french beans are doing OK - way behind anything in your part of the world, though!

  7. Gardening is art.. there's nothing more beautiful then viewing a garden in all it stages of life... from the ground to the plate.. what more beauty can you ask for?
    Yum! you've made me hungry :)

  8. I long to get growing and re organisingmy garden but you have put your finger on it..its very time consuming.

  9. What wonder! I stayed at a house in Anglesey with a large walled garden producing the food we gathered and ate and it was just delicious - I am envious of your bounty! It doesn't seem frugal but I know what you mean! Your garden and kitchen are your art for now! (it doesn't last long here in England does it so I think you need to make the most of it all and leave the other art till winter time)