17 July 2010


One of the drawbacks of taking our summer holidays in the summer is that while we are away, our vegetables become just right for picking in the garden. All too often we get back to bolted lettuces, chewy beans and peas like bullets.

We have very little space for growing veg; only a very small piece of garden and lots of large pots. We don't have the luxury of a large vegetable plot or allotment.

We grow our potatoes in an old metal dustbin and a variety of other large pots, all with about three plants crammed into each, grown from seed potatoes.

This is the number of potatoes from one large pot with three plants in. This variety is called Rocket, a first early potato.

This year we seem to have a good crop of broad beans, very much a favourite of the house, and we have managed to get them before they became too big and chewy. We also got some peas while they were still reasonably small, sweet and tender.

Sometimes I wonder if it is worth the effort, this growing vegetables lark. It certainly isn't a money-saving exercise, the way we do it, more of a hobby. When I am out in the freezing cold, in early spring, potting on or pricking out the seedlings in my woolly hat, fingers blue and sore from the freezing and gritty compost, I think I must be mad.

Same again later in the spring, battling with the slugs, pigeons, rabbits and other pests. One year we got back from our May holiday to find a snail munching his way through the last carrot top of a whole row of carrots.

But every time I shell the first batch of peas and eat the first meal where the beans and potatoes were in the garden less than an hour earlier, I have no doubts at all. There's nothing like the flavour of home-grown vegetables, and knowing that it came from a little seed pushed into a bit of compost in the dark days of February or March.

This time we also have a good crop of redcurrants. Last July they were not ready when we left for France and by the time we got back the birds had eaten the lot. Luckily, this year we managed to beat the birds to it.

I am now for the first time in my life making redcurrant jelly, using Delia Smith's recipe.

(I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will turn out ok.)


It worked out really well. It was dead easy to make, set perfectly and tastes lovely. I can't believe I have got to this age and never made jam before. I am now planning plum jam and blackberry jelly for later in the year.


  1. It is a lot of work and not that cheap to have a vegetable garden but it is so worth it. My family in France have huge ones and it is such a pleasure to look at the bounty. You know it is grown without pesticides and it tastes so good. It is rewarding and good for the spirit.

  2. Everything looks great! We've been enjoying the potatoes (thanks) and now our summer squash is starting to produce.

  3. Oh yes, it is certainly worth the effort. Home grown veg tastes so much better than bought. It is also magic to see the end results. Diane

  4. Wow! Amazing harvest you've got. I live right beside my tiny kitchen garden, but haven't had time to get it in. Sigh.

    Hope you enjoy good eating!

  5. Hi Jean, when were you here?
    We arrived permanantly 23rd July.
    I agree with the first comment.... well worth growing your own... flavour, just picked and not chill stored, knowledge of what's gone onto/into their cultivation and the ability to grow things, in bulk, that are really expensive in the shops.... like your redcurrants [currently 2€ for 125 gms in the Intermarché] or about 16€ for what you've got in the drainer!!]
    Don't worry about the cost, enjoy the produce... also, if you allotment you can put the cost of gym membership against the cost of growing.

  6. Nadege, Walt and Diane - growing your own is so satisfying and makes me feel very clever, virtuous and smug.

    Rob-Bear - I always enjoy good eating. It's extremely difficult to put me off my food. BTW it's Lulu's birthday today.

    Tim - we were chez nous the first week of July. You guessed right, there were 2¼ pounds of fruit.

  7. Her Ladyship, Miss Sadie, instructs me to send happy birthday greetings to Lulu.

    Happy birthday to her from me, too!