This is our first year in the country with a yard. It’s great to have all that space, and Arya loves having the freedom of running around the house and barking at cars and passers-by, but right now that’s really all it is – space. Almost from the first time I saw it, I have been wanting to dedicate some of it to planting vegetables. Emily’s lovely parents gave us a gift certificate to White Flower Farms, which sell seeds, flowers and other accoutrements. So why not give it a go?
There are quite a few challenges to the practical use of our garden. Most of it has a slope of some degree – quite severe around the back of the house, and less so elsewhere, but there are very few completely level areas. Where there IS level ground, tree roots tend to limit how much digging can be done. I planted crocuses alongside the porch in early December (JUST beginning to see them emerge…) and most of the trowel work involved battling the root system of nearby trees.
When I was a teenager living in Wateringbury, Kent, we kept chickens. We had a moderate garden behind the house, which I was proud to have helped to plan and build (I designed the curved patio area – to this date probably my only piece of landscaping), and my mum and stepdad set up a chicken house alongside it. At any one time, we had up to six chickens – I’m fairly sure we lost several along the way to foxes and dropsy, but I remember we had them for a good few years. They had free run of the garden and, if the bottom part of the kitchen door was left open, they’d wander in and investigate the house. I don’t remember having any real responsibility for them, other than a bit of cleaning and feeding; the clearest memory I have is of chasing them down as they ran, single-file, out of the garden gate and down Pizien Well Road. I don’t know where they thought they were going.
These are a few things that I’ve found to be game-changers. Simple things that make cooking better, easier and tastier.
1. Never use iodized table salt. It’s yucky and tastes like chemicals. Use kosher salt for cooking and sea salt for finishing. My very favorite salt of all time is Maldon Sea Salt. It has a wonderful briny, not-too-salty flavor and a great crunch.