One of the best things about having a garden and a greenhouse is that when you have been away for a few days you know that there is something fresh to eat when you get home. It’s amazing how much the plants grow in just a short space of time. You can go away one day when the French beans are just tiny little matchsticks, the courgettes the size of gherkins and the raspberries barely formed and just a few days later they are fully grown, ripe and ready to harvest.
It’s a living larder and it’s about to explode with mouth watering wonders.
I grow my own food for lots of reasons, but the main one is the flavour. Next time you pick a handful of raspberries, smell them. They have the most amazing aroma that develops as they ripen. Strawberries are the same.
Try a little experiment, especially with the kids. Choose a warm summer’s day. Pick a bowl of fruit such as tomatoes, raspberries or strawberries, but not a mixture. Divide the fruit into two portions and put one half in the fridge for a few hours and leave the other half at room temperature. Blind fold the children and get them to smell the cold fruit first and then the warm fruit. Ask them to describe what they smell. The difference is amazing. Then ask them to taste the cold fruit and then the warm fruit. It’s all about savouring the flavour. It’s not about growing huge quantities of anything; even just a small handful of homegrown raspberries can transform a bowl of cereal or yoghurt. Make the most of every one. You can also compare the smell and flavour of shop bought fruit with your own home-grown equivalents, if you need something to persuade you that home-grown is best then that may be the deciding factor.
Smell plays a vital part in the flavour of food. You can test this out by holding your nose tightly closed and then eating the room temperature tomatoes, strawberries or raspberries. The taste can almost disappear, but when you let go of your nose the flavours are amazing.
Gardening is a wonderful way of showing children about nature. They love to eat things that they have grown, get them to really taste what they are eating. If they don’t like vegetables it may be because the ones they eat at school have little flavour, show them how wonderful a fresh carrot can taste, make chocolate cakes with added beetroot, let them pick fresh pea pods and open up these little packets of sweetness. Nature is a great teacher and once a child has a love of something natural, whether it is butterflies, bees, plants or even peas, it never goes away. It’s not difficult to engage them in plants and share the wonders of gardening.
Cast your mind back to your childhood, what memories do you have of summer gardens and how that has shaped your life? What wonderful garden based memories can you make for your children or grandchildren? Isn’t it a lovely thought to think that they may remember you and your garden fondly for the whole of their life? Make it your challenge for this summer; it’s a great way to while away the school holidays.