Chip off the old block


Last year I started cultivating the farm garden. The plot in question has been unloved for over 20 years and presented a unique opportunity for me to take up the challenge and make it productive once again.

I get my green fingers from my Dad. He is a seed guardian for Garden Organic and has lovingly tendered to old varieties of fruit and vegetables for as long as I can remember. I often recall assisting him in the potting shed or helping to set onions in the garden when I was about 5 or 6 years old.

Setting to work on old ground was tough at first but I’m fortunate to have my practical husband with modern day farming equipment on hand to help out. That said, we did work a lot of soil with a fork which was quite satisfying.

Having had one successful growing season in 2014 planting onions, potatoes, runner beans, leeks and sweetcorn, this year I have become more ambitious.

Andrew and I borrowed a vintage tractor from a friend and one afternoon we ploughed up the rest of the garden and dug in last year’s pig muck. Since then, I have been fighting the weeds but its quite a stress relief if I’m honest.

Ploughing up the garden
Ploughing up the garden

With wet and warm weather this Summer the garden has recently come to life. I’ve got 8 wigwams of beans, peas, asparagus, leeks, two varieties of potatoes, onions, garlic, shallots, butternut squash, kale, beetroot, carrots and sweet corn. And in the greenhouse in our bungalow garden I’ve got chillies, peppers and tomatoes. I know its not going to be long before I’m overwhelmed with the fruits of my labour however I cant wait to sample the freshness and satisfaction of home grown produce.

Its been a learning curve dealing with the weather and pest control too. I’m farming on a small scale as it were but still get scuppered with the same issues as if I was cultivating 500 acres! Black fly seems to have taken root on my runner beans but I’m fighting back with a passion. I’m getting very overprotective of my crop.

I dug my first new potatoes last week and made into dauphinoise potato and added in some shallots for good measure. Here is the recipe:

Serves 4
Prep 15 mins
Cook 25 mins
Pre heat the oven to 180c
500g new potatoes
200ml double cream
100ml milk
4 shallots, finely chopped
50g Gruyere cheese, finely grated

Thinly slice new potatoes (mine are the variety ‘Charlotte’) with a mandolin.
Par boil for 5 minutes
Drain and layer in an oven proof dish with the finely chopped shallots
Mix together the cream and milk.
Pour over the potato/shallots
Sprinkle the cheese on top. Season the dish
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown

More harvest delights and tales to follow

2015-07-11 13.49.14

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