Today's entry is dedicated to one of my best friends over at Scargosun who inspired me to do this entry with her new dedication to 'locavore' living. Originally it started out as a comment on her blog, but then I thought, wow, that's a bit rude to take up the whole comment section, and so this entry was born...So, the photo you see above is our 'potager', or what you might know as a vegetable garden. If you look closely at the picture you'll see what is currently our garden, the small fenced in area with plants and weed-free dirt. Then, in the background, past the tree all the way to the fence posts in the far left is what the previous owner used as his potager. As we acquired La Maison a bit late in the planting season, and I can't spend the entire day a slave to greenery, we started small this season with 6 zucchini plants (yes, we LOVE the Z) and a mini orange paprika plant we picked up in the Netherlands.
Now I'm no green thumb, anyone who has ever housesat for us knows I tell them, don't worry about the plants, they're hardy, they can go months without water and always come back!! Read: no plant in my home stays unless it can thrive on occasional, remembered waterings. So, over the years I have pottered on our Parisian balconies mostly with tomatoes (we were always south facing) to fairly reasonable & tasty results. So this new foray into ultimate green was a trite overwhelming, thus the small beginnings.
However....I am pleased to report & prove via photographic displays evidenced here (see left and right)....that our land is fertile baby! and the fruit is coming forth....that and my very concerted effort to water on a regular basis from the conveniently located stream (just off the right of the potager photo above).
A little lesson I learned a few years back about zucchini sex (uh, this is a pg-13 rated blog, details are available on google) has Z's sprouting at an alarming rate. The one you see above, just for an edible point of reference is about the length of my forearm from wrist to elbow, and not even ready for picking (& grilling!)! The yellow flowers Z blooms are gorgeous, aesthetically pleasing me as well as tasty--and a tidbit of info, the flower on right is female....Last night we had a fabulous Thai dish and as the mini-paprikas (seen in the macro photo above) were piling up, I sliced and diced 5 of them in there...and can only say a chorus of 'Yums' was the happy result.
There have even been a few, free surprises in the potager. A couple hardy strawberries from last year popped up again (for you garden virgins, strawberry plants are perennial but sensitive to cold--why most people replant them every year), and I discovered their tell-tale leaves in an earlier weeding effort in May, so cleared a small halo of open space for them, watered them and now and then, as I survey the garden, am treated with a oh-so-sweet succulent berry for my efforts. Next year I'll see if we can't get a proper jam--oh, who am I kidding, they'll never make it to a jam jar--a proper strawberry treat row.
The two small trees (you may only see one, as the second is just behind) in the photo of the potager are theoretically peach trees, though my suspicion is that they are apricots based on their current size, and I check them every week to see if they're ready. They have remained stone hard, but fun to fondle...did I say pg-13?...ha ha....and I can't wait to see how they taste. In the back of our property we have a small orchard with pear & apple trees, but I'll save those fruity tales for another entry :)
Last but not least in our little potager, we have what I like to call my Martha Stewart plants. The ones that, in a normal housing situation, would be great to have around for dinner parties, but in my experience, quickly dried and died in their store bought pots....thus leaving me to just stick to the spice cabinet. And here I am talking about our spice friends. 'Ciboulette'-chives, 'Romarin'-rosemary & 'Thym'-thyme. My tastebuds have been titillated beyond belief by the joy of adding these fresh spices to dishes coming out of my...camping kitchen. For example, my Parisian restaurant dining days were for a moment forgotten when, with my first official visitor (Hi Janet!), I took a fresh fish, gutted it, cleaned it, slapped some fresh rosemary branches & sliced lemon inside and sizzled it on the grill for about 20 minutes....and voila...a tastalicious meal with unbelievable flavour. This just wouldn't have been the same with dried spices. My ciboulette plant has led to oh so prrretty presentations of stuff because I had the ability to just scissor some chives before the plate went out....or to just add it to some sour cream for the potatoes....ahhhh, such culinary bliss.
And so, it is with further discovery joy that T & I continue our education of vegetables that are in season, eat them by the barrel and wait to see what the next seasonal lesson is. Don't be afraid to try your own potager, or even a little window box with spices--stick them in the dirt, water & voila... The quality of the country vegetables, especially our own, is ruining us, and I hope that more of you out there experiment with farmer's markets, bio veggies or whatever it is you can find, because, truly the results are worth it.
So, Bon Appetit & Bonne Continuation....Maybe next year this will be me?.....maybe not!!....