Monday, June 14, 2010

A peck of pickled peppers. In the summer of 2008-09, we decided to plant a vegie garden and I took it very seriously. We had a bed of tomatoes, a bed of lettuce, rocket, mint and coriander, and what I referred to as "the C-section" – cucumbers against the fence, capsicum in the middle and chilli at the front. Dan also insisted on planting an eggplant in a pot.

I did everything I remembered from successful gardens of the past: I forked blood and bone through the soil and mulched it with pea straw. I did the whole water-saving bizzo: bucket in the shower, decant into the watering can, water the plants. I tended to those plants as if they were my children, tenderly staking and trellising them when they needed it. Despite having paid for half the cost of establishing the garden, Dan was not really interested in maintaining it – not even his eggplant.

Keeping snails away was another of my horticultural vendettas. The coriander succumbed entirely to this and the mint only survived because I transplanted it to a stand-alone pot. The C-section also suffered; half the capsicum and cucumber seedlings were gnawed to death. The remaining plants survived long enough to provide me with some pitiful fruit.

Basically, the garden was hardly the bounteous food bowl I had envisioned and despite the soothing nature of tending to it, when it came time to plant for summer '09-'10, I just couldn't be bothered. I pulled out the pathetic tomatoes, although I did continue to water the C-section and Dan's neglected eggplant.

Once I got Graham in February '09, the watering was a pain in the arse. He's fascinated with running water and would inevitably paw excitedly at the plants while I was trying to water them. He also tore through the garden in his flights of kittenish excitement and uprooted all the remaining capsicums.

The only plants to have survived are two chillis… and Dan's eggplant. And they all bore fruit this year. Yes – even a tiny little eggplant! I chopped it up and had it in a pasta sauce. But the chillis are going from strength to strength. I picked this handful last week.

Obviously they are not yet pickled (I put some, finely chopped, in my homemade tinned spaghetti on Saturday night) and there are not enough to make a peck (someone else has done the hard maths on that), but there are certainly enough to keep a home cook happy.

Please also note my Burglar Bill-esque sleeve… "That's a nice peck of pickled peppers – I'll have that."

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