• In season now: May

    New this month: Asparagus! The food of gods... and carrots are back.

    Still in season from last month: cauliflower, chard, green cabbage, salad leaves, main-crop potatoes (from store), salad leaves, sea kale, spring greens, rhubarb

    Goodbye till next year to: Purple sprouting broccoli (sniff, sniff), leeks, stored parsnips, forced rhubarb

  • What I’m doing here

    This all started when I picked the first strawberries from my new allotment.

    I'd never been so enraptured or so excited by food. It was a shock to find that anything could taste so good.

    So what - I'd never had strawberries before?

    No - all the strawberries I'd had were shop-bought, like as not flown in from intensive growers in Spain or Chile, and eaten in winter when strawberries should be a distant summer memory.

    It revolutionised my thinking about the fresh food we eat every day. I started to wonder if you got the same amazing taste from all types of food grown and eaten in season. And then I decided to do something about it.

    The Year of Eating Seasonally is my little experiment to find out what it's really like not to have it all. The only fruit and veg I and my family are going to eat in 2008 will be what's growing in the ground at the time (or, in winter, what I can get out of store).

    I want to find out if the hungry gap is really as hungry as everyone says it is: whether you're really eating nothing but cabbage all winter; and whether you miss strawberries in December.

    Along the way I hope I'll save a few tons of carbon being released into the atmosphere on my behalf, as I won't be requiring those French beans flown from Chile, thanks very much. And I hope I'll be rediscovering what food can really taste like.

    If you have any comments, please feel free to post them anywhere you like - or you can email me at sallywhite@hotmail.com.

Self-sufficiency beckons

Domestic goddess rating: 10% (gardener not cook today) Five-a-day: 5/5 Food miles: about 40

On the menu: Toast,  jam & juice (breakfast); re-heated paper pie and peas  (lunch); roast pork, greens and roast potatoes (supper – mmm hmmm)

I’ve been down at the allotment all day today, drawing fresh inspiration from my new-found seasonal eating fetish. Until now things have been a bit ad-hoc on the grow-your-own front: I’ve just grown more or less what I felt like growing, the usual spuds, peas and beans plus a couple of tomato plants and a courgette or two.

But now I’ve realised I need to get serious. There are so many things which aren’t readily available in the shops that I should be churning out from the allotment by now – purple-sprouting broccoli is on its way, but my output of sprouts, savoy cabbage, spring greens, root veg and indeed anything that’s worth eating at this time of year has been pretty pathetic.

Not for long. I’ve already got a few seeds sprouting in the greenhouse, and for once I intend replacing the ones which either don’t germinate or get munched by slugs. I usually put up with the diminished harvest if I lose a few plants along the way: but this time I can’t afford to – the aim is to supply the amount that we’ll be eating. I’ve worked out roughly how many cabbages and parsnips we’re likely to get through in their season – yes, it really does get this detailed – though sprout plants and PSB is a bit more hit-and-miss, so I’m going to try a row of each and see if that gives us too little, too much or about right and adjust accordingly. And I will get around to planting out those rhubarb plants I currently have languishing in pots – next year I’ll be forcing one so that I’ll never have to miss out on those gorgeous pale pink shoots again.

Little did I realise that eating seasonally is one step along the road towards self-sufficiency. I’ve always been very sceptical of ideas that you can be completely self-sufficient: but the year I manage to feed my family from my own efforts is the year I’ll know I can be truly proud of myself.

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2 Responses

  1. Our PSB didn’t get going for this winter/spring which am a bit disappointed about. Ok, it takes ages to grow but it is certainly worth it in terms of “fresh” veg for the winter. Last year, we had plenty and son was even eating it while it was still attached to the plant (you can’t get fresher than that!).

  2. Hey Mia, sorry to hear that – it’s always a bummer when you go to all that effort for nothing… hope you have better luck next year! And I didn’t realise it’s so tasty raw… must try that….

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