Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Edible Garden

You might be wondering why I've posted so many recipes with courgettes recently. Well, of course I love courgettes, but the actual reason is that at this very moment I can just pluck them from my garden! They might not be the biggest, fattest courgettes ever, but they are the tastiest! Actually, most of the courgettes you see at the shops are a tad on the overgrown side, and therefore spongy and lacking a lot of flavor. The best courgettes are the little guys, the ones smaller than 10cm.
So how do I know this? And why did I place my courgette plants right next to the lavender (bees)? Am I such a keen gardener? Not really. A lot has just been a matter of experimenting and waiting to see what happens. Last year, for example, I swore my apple tree was dead. It was covered with some sort of fuzz and it did not produce a single apple! This year, however, it's bulging with healthy, little apples and I'm very excited at the thought of harvesting them a few months from now!
I've also been luckier with some varieties of tomatoes than with others. Two summers ago, I purchased seeds for Marmande tomatoes in France. I was lucky enough to actually try these wonderful tomatoes in Marmande and totally fell in love with their fruity taste and robust flesh. They grew amazingly well in the somewhat wet, cool Dutch climate and at the end of the season, I had developed an even bigger taste for them since they were in just about every salad I made! Cherry tomatoes on the other hand, weren't all that successful. Not that they weren't delicious, it's just that my harvest  was, well- rather tiny.
I started trying my hand at growing my own fruits and vegetables after reading Jamie Oliver's book, Jamie At Home: Cook Your Way to the Good Life. More than a recipe book, Jamie actually has great gardening tips and lets the reader see that having your own vegetable patch is not as hard as it seems. The recipes in the book are organized according to season, which is also very motivating. I kept thinking: "Wow, as soon as I have  strawberries, I have to try that recipe with grilled strawberries! And ooh, when I get my first tomatoes, I'll definitely be making Jamie's Summer Tomato Pasta!" Should you also be interested in growing more than just chives and parsley, this is definitely a book I highly recommend.