I’ve always wanted to have my own vegetable garden – le potager in French.
I grew up spending a great deal of time with my grandmother who had a farm and a restaurant. One of the greatest joys of my childhood and very likely the source of my desire to become a chef, has to be the time I spent by her side.
On the farm, I had the task of collecting green beans and potatoes early in the morning, feeding the chickens and cleaning the rabbit cages…
I have some great memories of that time. As Jamie Oliver says quite well, if you know where your food is coming from, you eat with respect and you eat better. This has been even more important for me at the births of each of my children. Unfortunately my busy schedule earlier in my career made it difficult to grow more than a few herbs or the occasional tomato. So sadly my first two children did not benefit from this desire to get my hands in the dirt. But thankfully life is full of second chances – at least I’d like to think so.
When we lived in Paris, we planted a few things – well actually, Yetunde decided to plant chili plants from seeds. There is something exciting about seeing a plant grow from seeds and it was amazing how even in Paris on our small balcony, we managed to plant a small “jungle”. One of those plants, a Thai chili, followed us on two consecutive moves and bore fruit for 4 years! Sadly we said our good-byes earlier this year. But I’m sure Yetunde will be back at it again.
We have already grown a small garden at our previous house – a small box of strawberries, tomatoes and raspberries. We had to fight the snails to get to the fruits first! But that’s the organic way.
Living in the south of France, with its more than 300 days of sunshine, makes the possibility of gardening all the more enticing despite busy schedules.
We tried very half-heartedly last year to start our garden. We were late to plant and we did not have the time to do it well, with the opening of the new school and just adjusting to our new surroundings. And Remi, was too little to appreciate what we were doing so my motivation was limited.
This year, I was ready! Remi is now a rowdy 30 month old little boy. He loves to help – or at least moves to play in the dirt and we wanted him to start to appreciate (as best as he can), where his delicious food comes from. He is already in love with the market.
This time around we will do it well and we will succeed in having our own home-grown organic vegetables in our plates.
We have started with, 4 or 5 varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, cantaloups, eggplants, green beans, peas, bell-peppers, chili peppers, cucumber, radishes and a lot of varieties of herbs. 5 varieties of basils, parsley, coriander, chives, tarragon, sage, rosemary, thyme, verbena, sorrel.…of course strawberries and raspberries. Some lettuce and other vegetables will come soon.
We will see what is growing as, so far, the weather is not great in Uzes but the forecast looks promising.
I have 4 or 5 books to help me… especially with the cuttings. We need to start cutting the useless leaves and branches that prevents the good ones to grow and make good produce.
Remi of course, is going to be involved, what is more fun than playing with soil and water?
We will keep you posted and who knows, maybe some of our production will end up in your plates during one of our French cooking classes in Provence.