I WONDER in this frugal Lenten season why fresh garden fruit and vegetables are not more widely grown at home.
There are so many health benefits (and sheer pleasure) to be had from growing your own, that it shows up instantly how bland and tasteless shop-bought produce can be.
But perhaps we are seduced and spoiled by supermarket displays: the array, presentation, uniformity, even price, all lead us away from garden cultivation, and the perceived hard work involved.
The excitement and promise from displayed exotica are usually what tempt young chefs and hostesses to depart from traditional fare.
Today, meal makers want produce, which is clean, unblemished, graded, fresh, easily sourced, and cheap.
So why should anyone tend a crop of potatoes from spring to harvest when as many as are needed can be bought washed, cleaned, and graded, for as little as ten or twelve euro?
Why indeed, but have we grown idle, bored, or timid about their cultivation, or have we become ignorant on how to proceed when it comes to producing fruit and vegetables in our gardens? If this is the case, it is indeed a great pity.
Where has locally grown Irish produce gone? Is it there at all? Yes, some outlets sell fresh Irish root vegetables, but all fruit (and all exotics) seems to be imported from Europe and beyond. How much better for consumer and grower if supermarkets tried to concentrate on offering produce that is seasonally at its best and grown locally.
In my book exotics are only fruits which we are not familiar with.
Would they not take a leaf from the book of country market suppliers, or pick-your-own farms, which can often buy in plenty from amateurs and allotment holders?
A head of lettuce from one of these outlets has a load of crunchiness to offer whilst a vine of Sweet 100 tomatoes mentally sliced with White Lisbon onion and basil would make a sandwich which would take the edge from anyone’s hunger.
Have you ever tasted home grown, warm, plump raspberries lightly dipped in cream?
Or plums still steaming in a freshly cut warm tart drenched in whipped cream?
How about settling for a supper of locally sourced mushrooms on brown bread toast while the moon outside grows bigger and fatter in the spring twilight?
You don’t know what you are missing if you have never experienced all these wonders, but now’s your chance to make it happen.
Grow your own this spring, this summer and on into autumn.
You’ll simply love it and go on to thank me for years to come.