Fiona McIntosh

The Summer Garden

An amazing change of mindset came over me this summer. Probably for the first time I really understood the joy of growing one’s own fruit and veg. Oh, we’ve always grown herbs and tomatoes, ignored our own apricots … but I’ve been too distracted to take enough notice. I suppose the demands of city life and living can do that. But we’ve spent the entire spring/summer on an isolated acre in Tasmania and because the nearest shop is a lengthy round trip in the car with no promise that you can get what you want, we decided to grow lots of stuff.

My husband, who is a good gardener, planted an array of fruit and veg and everything took except the tomatoes, which are lagging. I was astonished to fill a basket daily with snow peas, beetroot, lettuce, zucchini, and our own unbelievably delicious potatoes! Then there were all the herbs – mint, thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano, sage, coriander and finally, basil. The fruit! … our own plums, strawberries and mouth wateringly plump, sweet raspberries, with blackberries any moment. Pears in a month I suspect, lemons finally coming along. Now I know I’m sounding hysterical about something the rest of the world has grasped but from a small corner of our meadowy country garden there were rich and plentiful pickings. How much pleasure it brought me to step outside the back door each day and be able to unearth potatoes that were dug up, steamed and on the table within minutes and taste so very different to shop bought. Or the sexy experience of gently plucking a bowl of raspberries whose supermarket equivalent would fetch $8 in the supermarket and taste like wet cardboard while these were individual jewels exploding in the mouth with the real flavour of sun sweetened raspberries that we are in danger of forgetting.

I am planning a huge blackberry haul before I leave here and my jam jars are ready and waiting. If you can, find a way to grow more of your own – I’ve discovered so little space is needed and only marginal effort is required for a bounteous return and a taste reward you’ll never want to give up.