I’ve never been the most agriculturally minded individual. Prior to moving to the countryside, despite my best intentions to plant a veggie patch last year, the closest I had got to growing my own was planting some cress seeds in an empty egg shell at primary school. Granted, the egg shell did have a face painted on it and the cress was cut into a Mohican style hair cut after it had sprouted but as sustenance it wasn’t a great success.
It was certainly time to rectify this. One of the aspects of moving that excited us most was the prospect of becoming more self-sufficient and we wasted little time in transforming large areas of the garden into functioning vegetable patches. I had no idea how much hard work this involved and for four days afterwards my back, neck and shoulders ached with a deep-set pain and a layer of dirt resolutely refused to shift from underneath my fingernails. But it was a great feeling, made even sweeter by the knowledge that just a few short months ago I was whiling away my days in a strip lit, climate controlled office where the windows wouldn’t open and everything felt sanitised and slightly unreal. Now the sun was on my back and I was spending my days doing everything I loved and nothing I didn’t. We’d planted an ambitious selection of edible goodies into five seedling trays and the excitement when the first of the tiny green shoots popped through the lightly compacted earth was phenomenal. Within a week all of the various seeds that we had planted had begun to push their way through the surface and were rapidly outgrowing their little temporary homes, eager to be planted into the newly dug beds.
This was about four weeks ago and now, whilst we still have a considerable wait for many of the plants to bear fruit, the leafier of the plants are looking lush and ready to eat with continental salad leaves and rocket leading the charge. The pace and voracity with which they’ve started to take over their little corner of the garden has been mildly alarming but also strangely comforting. As a measure of success it appears as if we’ve come out on top and now it is possible to see the effects of the hard work that went into the beds just a few short weeks ago. It makes the whole process worthwhile and, while I’d always been attracted to the idea, only now am I truly beginning to see the benefits and attraction of slow food, there is just something that resonates with a profound satisfaction of seeing the progress of food in this way. So much so that think we need wait no longer and these vibrant little green leaves will be eaten tonight with a gently roasted piece of lamb breast and some delightfully spring like Jersey potatoes.