I wrote in a previous piece about the use of local food and how I believe that local produce has benefited from the current economic recession.
Another beneficiary is growing your own fruit and vegetables with a huge increase in the number of allotments and a renewed interest in gardening your own fruit and vegetables. TV Celebrity Chefs like Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall help this but I think we are realising that not only is it cheaper to grow your own but it also tastes so much better.
My story of gardening until the last two years one wasn’t one of a close friendship. I regarded them with fear, awe and associated them with alot of hard work. The first garden I remember in my family home had been the envy of the neighbourhood until we came along. My parents would also associate the words fear, awe and hard work with the garden so I grew up in an enormous garden that we found difficult to get to grips with. My next gardening thoughts was one very hot and sunny summer in Edinburgh in a top floor flat when I looked down on the plot of land that was our tenement garden and wished very much it wasn’t a waste land but a garden so that I could sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine after work. So afterwards we left the joys of Morningside flat living and moved to the suburbs of Craiglockhart to a house with a garden that yet again had been the pride and joy of the previous deceased owner and like my parents before me I kept getting told about the award winning plants and so forth. To me it was a marathon working in the Borders and living in Edinburgh didn’t give me alot of hours to spend in it and when we did the fussy borders and plants just gave me renewed feelings of fear, awe and hard work. We were only two years in that house and though we did do plenty in doors I am afraid that out doors the garden has hopefully benefited from its next owners as we only made it look unloved and neglected though my green fingered mother in law did take some beautiful cuttings for us that we took to our next home and also I believe still are growing in her home. This takes me now to my present home in St Boswells. This thankfully did not have an award winning garden just a pleasant one and one in which on the day we got the keys I entered on a sunny May day smiled at the garden in bloom and felt that I had come home. But I must confess we didn’t make great in roads to the Barnsdale garden either though Andy my husband did make a great job of the front garden over a Easter Weekend and I quickly did find the joys of patio plant pots. However an extension to the back of the house reduced the back garden to a building site and the summer and autumn of 2008 I looked out from my fabulous new dining room and yet again looked out on my garden with awe, fear and yes knew alot of hard work was required to make it a garden again. It was also significantly smaller with the extension. After much deliberation we decided that the anthrax filled garages would go and in its place would emerge the new garden with a vegetable garden attached. As ever being behind my husband in the thought process this was very much his plan the vegetable garden and I simply went along with it. I confess that we invested alot of our final money we had for the extension into the garden our 40 the birthday treat to ourselves and used one of my gardening design clients to do the work.
What has emerged is a garden that is my favourite place in our home and I have become one of these people who go out each day to see what is newly blooming and to pick up any weeds. Even in November last year I was out in the garden tending to it and enjoying just being in it. Today on a wet day in August it’s looking fantastic with the second bloom of roses giving joy and plants that I can’t name shining their red flowers giving colour to our life on a wet day.
So I no longer regard the garden with awe, fear and regard it as too much hard work. It’s the place that I like to take my phone calls when I am working at home or escape to for a quick coffee, it’s a place for reading the newspapers at the weekend and for setting the world to rights with my husband at night. It’s a place that I love.
But what of the good life? What of the vegetable garden? Well this has been a complete surprise for me too. I love growing vegetables and even more love cooking with the seasonal produce. Its therapy itself preparing salad fresh from the garden. We have produced two cucumbers this year small but oh so tasty. Plus we seem finally this year after a few years of trying in vain to produce tomatoes. The scent of them is fantastic as I water them each day and I can’t wait to eat them. Also enjoying the courgettes and now have many recipes on a courgette theme. I could see Andy laugh on saturday when he phoned and my main news was to tell him I had discovered another cucumber with great excitement. Yes I have caught his bug and am already thinking ahead to next year and what we can grow. Plus the kids love growing things watching them grow and then eating them and the pumpkins we are growing this year are their idea.
Andy also wants chickens and you know I am even coming round to that idea too though not sure where we would put them or what the pup would say to it.
So in conclusion I applaud the new interest in growing fruit and vegetables and hope like the use of local produce its one that will stay long after the economic recession ends. It’s certainly a habit that we will keep along with tending the garden. I like to think that Tom and Barbara of the Good Life would approve of this new interest in growing though not sure what Margot and Jerry would say!