Last night, aged 53, I did something very simple that billions around the world have been doing for millennia, but I had never done before: I ate a vegetable grown by my own hand!
Until Susan and I bought this house of ours I had never lived anywhere with a yard boasting a soiled area where fruit or vegetables could be grown, or indeed anywhere with enough space to install raised beds to do so. But this place is on a large lot with a good area of rich soil, so this spring and summer we have gradually been transforming what was a weed-infested jungle into a viable garden, and planting vegetables as we go. It has been back-breaking work, and there is still a hell of a lot of work to do to finish the job, certainly carrying us into next year, but the important thing is we have started and made a lot of progress. We are both total beginners at this, so learning as we go, and as a city boy I am surprising myself at how much I enjoy it. I am finding it good for the soul, and thoroughly enjoy working up a sweat to create results bringing me a true sense of achievement.
To start we have put in pumpkins, rutabaga, lettuce, carrots, broccoli and zucchini. (We also have separate tomato plants on the deck, and a herb garden in window boxes out front.) Next year, erecting trellises where needed, we are thinking of more of the same, as well as potatoes, turnips, runner beans, peas, kiwis and more; there's plenty of room for a whole bunch of great foods that will be totally organic, and also save us a load of money in the long run.
I've been diligently looking after our vegetable patch, giving it a good daily soak and encouragingly talking to the veg as one does. Lo and behold, bug issues aside, they have thus far been a real success, especially the zucchini. As the photo above joyously illustrates, last night Susan picked the two largest - leaving the remainder to grow even bigger - and we had one with roast chicken for dinner. Susan sliced it up, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with homegrown oregano and cilantro, and we cooked it on the BBQ. (See below.) It was, in a word, DELICIOUS!
The best vegetables I have ever tasted have come straight out of the host's garden, and our green babies proved no exception. Tonight, we pick a couple of lettuces as the basis of our salad, and have no doubt it will be the best lettuce we've ever had. If it isn't, we'll pretend it is, just because we grew it.