I’ve met a number of people over the years who have varying degrees of interest in the garden. Many have ideas quite different to mine, but that doesn’t matter, it’s what makes it interesting. I’ve been described as an enthusiastic amateur, but actually I think ‘hobbyist’ might fit better. I don’t like ‘twee’ gardens where the purchased uniform plants border a manicured lawn. It’s like the difference of baking your own cakes or buying them from a bakery!
Other gardening enthusiasts grow for pleasure and even that can differ between them, depending on whether they compete in flower shows, or grow for the table. My experience with show gardeners has left me feeling disappointed in them. I find some of them arrogant and smug and don’t take kindly to someone else winning. I was naive enough to give some of my home harvested tomato seeds, to an ‘expert’ gardener, none of which, according to him germinated. I found that strange because even I, being an amateur, had 100% germination! I know he threw them out but why could he not be honest instead of making himself look a bit foolish with such an unimaginative excuse? Straw is certainly not growing out my ears!
I thought of entering my tomatoes in the show, they may have won because they certainly were better looking than any of the ones entered that year. It was a fleeting thought but I didn’t want to become like them, arrogant and smug. I was smug enough knowing my tomatoes were better without putting them on display.
I think besides the show gardener himself, some of the prizewinning produce is the most tasteless you will ever get, although I only think that judging from a prize winning onion I was gifted. They have been nurtured to perfection but many by chemicals and forcing, not always natural. I prefer my produce as nature made it, without the interference of man.
I enjoy trying new produce and if I can get something to grow which is a bit out of the ordinary, I am happy just to get a result, however small. Many unusual fruits and vegetables have become popular as a whole new world of plants has been opened up to us. Some of them are just fun to grow, even although I don’t see them being too popular in shops.
Achocha, a funny little member of the cucurbit family. Quick growing, not much meat to them but raw, they taste a bit like cucumber and more like green peppers when cooked.
Courgettes and squashes come in all shapes and sizes and my favourites are Tondo Chiaro di Nisa, a small, round, tennis ball sized courgette and Tromba di Albenga, a weird and wonderful squash which can grow about a metre long. It has a long, curved, meaty neck with a bulbous end where the seeds are stored. I’ve only got it to grow about 30 centimetres but even that lasted me a long time.
Brad’s Atomic Grape tomato, I’d never seen anything like it, an oval shaped tomato with unusual colouring before it turns a sort of olive green when ready. It has an unusual taste but quite delicious.
Kiwano, otherwise known as Jelly Melon. Now that is something else entirely. Popular with chefs in restaurants as an unusual addition to a plate. It is a mass of large seeds in a green, jelly-like substance. Depending on the stage of ripeness will determine what flavour it has. It should be yellow when ripe but I forgot to take a photograph of the ripe ones. The fruit itself is a lethal weapon similar to the spiked ball on a chain used in mediaeval combat.
It’s certainly not the best hanging fruit to bump into. It does have a feel and weight of cast iron and just as dangerous.