When Big Man and I first got together, we rented a house for two years while we looked for somewhere to buy.
Fortunately I knew I´d found my perfect match when he announced that a small strip of the garden would be used for planting a few vegetables. Granted, it was only small, probably not much bigger than a couple of trestle tables lined up together, but I still smile at what we managed to cram into it those first two years. A few canes of runner beans, two heads of celery, some tomatoes, peppers and aubergines and onions dotted into any remaining gaps.
When we finally moved into our new house, although we had the olive grove, it was completely overgrown and it would not have been possible to plant vegetables that first year. Unwilling to give up our small supply of summer vegetables we planted a strip of garden in the same way as at the rented house. Additionally I put lettuces into pots and tin cans and tomatoes in hanging baskets.
About 10 months after moving in, a neighbour agreed to sell us a strip of land adjoining ours, and the walled vegetable garden was born. In 2011 we´re into our third year of planting, and although much of our vegetables have gone into the ground a little later this year due to the relentless rain we´re still having, things have grown enormously.
We now have a couple of mature muscat vines which we are training over the outside of the kitchen window. We have a compost heap, although very little actually makes it onto it as the dogs and the chickens generally deal with the kitchen leftovers between them.
We´ve also planted an orange and a lemon tree which are staring to flower. a fig tree which we, sadly, had to dig up when we built the house, has made a reappearance in the form of three little shoots. What joy!
We planted potatoes for the first time this year and they´ll be ready to come up in a few weeks. Our broad beans are in full production and when they´re over we´ll be able to put something in their place.
Our artichokes are well established and we´ll put a few new ones in this year too as the others have been supplying us most faithfully now since the outset.
We´ve planted runner beans, tomatoes, long thin green peppers, big fat bell peppers, aubergines, courgettes, onions, radicchio, celery and little Spanish cucumbers. My hot chilli seed collection is just starting to sprout, so they´ll go into the ground soon.
Once the potatoes and broad beans are up we´ll probably plant some dwarf green beans and this year I fancy trying out some borlotti. Who knows how the vegetables will turn out this year, but I´m already recycling jars for bottling tomato sauce and planning gazpacho for the summer. It´s a huge privilege to be able to grow our own vegetables. Even when it´s dull or grey, I walk out into our vegetable garden and breathe in the damp earthy smell and feel blessed.
Garlic – approx 300 cloves planted 30 December 2011