If we’re honest, we all hanker after a bit of the Good Life. Someone told me recently that I reminded them of Felicity Kendal and, as I was ranting about 4x4s to a 4×4 driver it definitely wasn’t meant as a compliment, but I took it as one and went home looked in the mirror, dimmed the lights and thought “hmmmmmm, maybe from a certain angle, with a veil over my head”, whilst smugly looking at my compost box and Dutch bike.
There is no way to feel more pleased with yourself than by growing your own fruit and veg. However, there is no way to feel more wretched than a) by neglecting them until they shrivel and die, as I did last year or b) by growing them successfully but then inexplicably allowing the fruits of your labour to rot until the kitchen is swarming with those tiny flies, as I did the year before last.
This year it’s all going to be so different. Oh yes. The Gardeners Delight cherry toms have been planted, the yellow and green courgettes are spreading their leaves in a grobag on the patio whilst the poor cucumber plants are frankly looking a bit squashed after my youngest sat on them last week, but nontheless am sure with all the chats we’re having, they’ll soon recover.
I live in a typical London terrace with a fairly long garden for this part of town (sadly the garden featured isn’t mine, but Tara’s at Natural History. She lives in Oxfordshire. Mine is more, ummmm, underwhelming) but have decided that less is more. Last year, ambition felled me. As well as the above, I planted green beans, corn on the cob and strawberries only to fail miserably at everything.
This year, my garden is going to be like something from Hugh What’sHisFace’s place.
I’ll be seeking advice from here and here, but have already salivated over what I am going to cook with my vegetables.
Cucumbers: sliced, peeled and salted in white bread sandwiches – a smattering of butter, crusts off. Or in a salad – again sliced – with a Thai dressing. Or pureed into a chilled soup with Indian spices. Tomatoes – fresh and whole so they pop in the mouth. Or slow-roasted overnight in a very low oven. And, saving the best to last, courgettes – finely sliced and slowly cooked with butter, garlic, cream and a spritz of lemon and served with linguine. Or cut on the diagonal, coated in seasoned flour and fried until crispy. And – if I’m not getting too carried away – I really want to stuff some flowers with mozzarella, coat them in batter and deep fry them – for one of the best suppers ever. If I do that… God, Felicity, eat your heart out baby.