Saturday, 18 June 2011

Life is like a box of chocolates...

Usually Quality Street:

Bright colours, something for everyone, attractive on paper, a sugary, nutty, fruity rush when you bite into it you but as you dwell on it you can't help wondering if it tasted better when you were a kid.

Sure it offers variety but in the passing years 'quality' and 'variety' have become so bland as to be meaningless; positive words detached from your senses but fixed in your brain. And when such words become meaningless you become a marketing guru's plaything. They can even make up associated words. Ribena is now full of 'Berryness'.

When I began growing, I just wanted to grow things like potatoes, beans, onions. That they come in varieties was lost on me at first. You rarely see varieties stocked for the discerning shopper. As far as I was aware, a cucumber is a cucumber.

Yet the garden centres are stocked with choice, and that's before you go online. I took two approaches this year. For runner beans I went on instinct, for blackcurrants I researched properly

Runner beans have striking but small colourful flowers. Last year mine were orange, this year I plumed for one red, one white.  I planted them by separate canes in a big container in the hope that they would spiral up towards each other in a burst of contrast. Today the first flowers appeared and I'm actually excited about this experiment:

When I chose my blackcurrants I made a conscious decision on which variety to choose. I read widely and from 5 varieties, plumped for Ben Hope - deemed to be an excellent grower with heavy yields.  But there was choice over the height, the taste, the amount of crop, the timing of the crop. It was actually quite empowering to choose what was right for me. And this is where varieties coax you deeper into the murky world of gardening...before you know it you'll be a veg snob.

All I'll say for now is that we'd all better keep this in check. Any garden snobs out there, take a good look at yourself. Why not try something new? Challenge yourself. Hell, why not walk into a garden centre and pick your next blackcurrant plant purely on Berryness

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The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.