From Garden to Plate…is it worth it?

Delish...Fresh Tuna Salad...oh with a little bit of fresh Wild Rocket
Delish…Fresh Tuna Salad…oh with a little bit of fresh Wild Rocket

One week back in Italy after three weeks in Brooklyn NYC and I’m just about over the jetlag. However, it wasn’t just my sleep pattern that was affected; it was eating, drinking and bodily functions that all went skew-whiff! Back on track now you’ll be pleased to know.

The result of three weeks absence meant that the orto (vegetable garden) had gone completely bonkers. Whilst away, the weather here in Italy had been sunny, warm and interspersed with lots of rain. Heaven for plants. It was impossible to see the paths separating the beds or to sort the weeds from the growing vegetables and I actually thought in one area that I must have cultivated some strain of triffid. Fortunately not.

My husband played hunt the strawberries and kindly cleared the bed of all but the said strawberries which, now having been shown the light, will hopefully plump up and ripen before June.

I tried, (honestly) to weed some of the beds but ended up just picking peas, fava beans (broad beans) and a lettuce for lunch. I know, I should have done more but it really is hard work and I don’t think I’m dedicated enough. I mean, it’s fantastic to pick something from the garden, carry it into the house, prepare and eat it all within half an hour. But, honestly, the work that you have to put in to get to the harvesting stage is possibly not my bag. I have friends who are devoted to their vegetable gardens, (and I do admire them) up at the crack of dawn, which here means 05.30am or it’s too hot, then toiling for three hours or more, virtually every day. Then you have to set up the irrigation system, the plants need water morning and night here in Italy from June/July through to October. Last year was so hot that even with watering the poor little veggies needed umbrellas to keep the sun off during the day or they dehydrated within minutes.

Fresh Picked, Lettuce, Peas and Beans
Fresh Picked, Lettuce, Peas and Beans

So I ask myself, is it better to just go to the market and buy fresh local produce or should I continue to try, against all the odds, to plod on with ‘grow your own’ method? The peas and beans were planted in November, as were the lettuce and they have all come through beautifully, from now on though, it’s all downhill.

Final thought. Who remembers shelling peas with their mum when they were a kid? I do and today I was reminded of that. It took me twenty minutes to shell a small bowlful of peas. They were delicious, but were they better than the frozen? The vote in this household is yes! But he would say that, he didn’t shell the peas nor did he pick them!

The Little Bowl of Peas from the Bundle of Shells.
The Little Bowl of Peas from the Bundle of Shells.

8 thoughts on “From Garden to Plate…is it worth it?

  1. That’s truly spooky, Ninette! This morning I was just day-dreaming about eating freshly-shelled peas with my brother in our garden when I was about 5 years old. That’s more than 50 years ago!! And I still remember the taste. They were delicious! This week we’ve been feasting on fresh fava beans, asparagus & carciofi – not ours but fresh all the same. So good!

  2. I have been wondering the same thing about soft fruit. Frozen raspberries are so good for jams and summer puddings. Weeding, pruning, picking, cleaning your own is such a fag…..

    1. I definitely think frozen fruit is perfectly good for jams and summer puddings…however, last year we had an abundance of apricots and I made pots and pots of chutney and jam, we still have some left. I’m not sure what this year’s crop will be like.

  3. having cleared our paths when we got back from the UK, 3 weeks later and with the rain, sun, rain, heat, they are rapidly disappearing again, and of course we don’t use any weedkiller in the orto at all ahhhhhhhh

    1. I think your orto is amazing…but then you do work very hard at it. Your pantry is full of home made soups, preserves and your freezer full of home grown goodies… you are the perfect example of self sufficient..well nearly!

  4. so … both methods (buying or grow yer own) produce the same end result ie a plate of food – so the question must be which is the most cost effective and advantageous – if you go DIY it costs lots of time lots of effort and some money on tools seeds plants and water – if you buy locally it costs v little time v little effort and only a little more money to get the same fresh produce PLUS you support a local business and local growers who depend on your custom for their livelihoods not to mention their custodianship of large areas of this lovely country – as against our little 150 sqm veg garden – this is not to disparage the fine work that the orto lovers of my acquaintance put in day and daily but maybe just maybe ………….

  5. Maybe a bit of this and a bit of that, gb? We haven’t got land for an orto here in Italy, but we are growing tomatoes & herbs in pots. And I’m sure you’ll agree it’s very satisfying to watch them develop; there’s nothing quite like harvesting your own tomatoes & eating them straight off the vine. We buy everything else we need locally – fresher & cheaper than in NZ.

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