A good crop of favourite vegetables.
GARDENING IN THIS complicated world, simple pleasures become even more important.
One pleasure is that first taste of your own new potatoes, another is those little broad beans without the leather jackets of those from the shops, while a third is the golf ball-sized baby beets and the fourth is a crisp salad that has never tasted chemicals.
It is brilliant when they all come together as a plateful of simple pleasure — as they nearly did at the weekend.
It is a reasonable year for potatoes and the international kidney variety in their rich, seaweed soil are good this year but not exceptional. They have had too much water (yes, it is possible) and not enough sun. Haven’t we all?
The Optica dwarf broad beans have stood up to the fearsome winds and cropped well, as they always do, and an experimental lettuce from Thompson & Morgan is a thing of real beauty.
It has also exhibited the big advantage of not proving attractive to slugs and snails and that is a real bonus this year.
It is the first of my T&M trial varieties to come to anything and it has proved mild tasting, large, crisp and not prone to bolt, although that is probably because the greenhouse has only become truly hot on a couple of occasions since the lettuce was planted some weeks ago.
Look out for lettuce number 4992 in the spring 2013 catalogue.
So, what about the other elements of a favourite, simple, home-grown dinner?
Tomatoes should nestle on the lettuce with no fancy balsamic vinegar to 'cook’ it. Lashings of Heinz salad cream is called for.
Sadly, the tomatoes are well behind (the weather, again) but a worthy substitute is Moruno, which can be found in a certain very large store. Runner beans, too, have been devastated in one of the worst-ever years for them I can remember. So, sadly, they too are missing from the platter.
What was also lacking, because I got to the High Street just after my favourite butcher had shut for the day, was flaky, home-cooked ham-off-the-bone but, as they say, one can’t have it all.
It was all rounded off with local, crusty, white bread — I got there before the baker had gone home — butter and the odd glass, or three, of Prosecco.
Sadly, I was not capable of controlling the elements but I would commend the rest to you all.