Saturday, 7 January 2012

Why?

Glut: a year in my patch
(no food stylists, no plating up, no food or horticultural professionalism)

There are so many gardening and  cookbooks and so many books taking advantage of the new frugalism or environmental consciousness encouraging people to grow and eat locally. These are often beautifully produced and written by either horticulturalists, celebrity chefs or just ‘celebrities’. They are beautiful and I devour them as many others do. Yet, they can be a bit intimidating. Precisely because the celebrity chef or the celebrity garderner has produced them, we think that we have to be a professional of some sort to do it ourselves. They don’t have anything else to do right, it’s their profession.
When I first began growing vegetables I was kind of put off by these fabulous books all with rules on growing veg, what to do, how to develop your compost, how to carefully rotate the beds, how to stake and prune your tomatoes, how to test your soil ph etc... there is no doubt that I learnt a lot from them but they also intimidated,  what if I did something wrong?  What if I didnt do exactly what they recommended? Would things grow? What if the resultant cucumber didn’t look like the ones in the books!
I now know that it is not that hard and not that scary.
There are  many people with simple yards in simple suburbs with little vegie patches and no horticultural qualifications and who will never be ‘celebrities’ of any sort who grow great real food and eat it everyday. I am one of those.
I have a full time and very busy job and also have a small vegie patch ( it is in the corner of our backyard) and a love of food.  I have no professional horticultial training but have been growing veg for a few years. My friends and relatives often marvel at my vegie garden asking me where I get the time to look after it. In reality, it doesn’t take too much time  at all. Besides which, if you love something you spend time on it, and youget to eat food that is healthy for you that you have gained some exercise to create and  reduced food miles.
What is the downside?  Two things I can think of -  dirty fingernails and feet (if you go gloveless and wear thongs in the garden like I do)  and dealing with the glut! What do you do with ten beautiful fat purple beetroot? What do you do with two basket’s full of lemons? How about a week’s picking of zucchinis? I hope to offer some ideas and of course get your ideas too.
This is a chronicle of a year in my patch and the pleasures of dealing with the glut. It documents the successes and failures.
This is not a ‘how to’. Those are written by those who know – trained experts or celebs with assistants and there are plenty of them all of which offer better advice that I can. It’s a diary of a real garden looked after by an enthusiastic  amateur in a suburban backyard.
The vegie garden photos are of my garden and taken by myself. They are real and imperfect. The vegies too are imperfect! They are beautiful real vegies from a real garden. They are not the fat overblown things that you might pick up from the supermarket but they are real and organic and home grown and if they are small in size they are packed with flavour and goodness because they are fresh from your garden.
The recipies in this book I have all cooked. Some are made up. Some have been borrowed and sometimes adapted from other recipe books. Where they have been , I have acknowledged the source ( where I can remember) and thanked them for helping me deal with my gluts!

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