20 September 2011

The Reject Shop

There are no plants of my own on this blog, no pictures which say 'Look what I've grown!'. Other people's plants are so much more interesting. I work in the park and gardens of two country estates, close to one another in the middle of England. One has a triangular walled kitchen garden which has been revived over the last decade with the help of volunteers. The other has no volunteers and no kitchen garden. The plot still exists, with its crumbling forcing houses and wild-looking fruit trees but it is derelict and a closed book.

Some of the Thursday volunteers in the walled garden at Marsh Hall order veg boxes, which are put together on the same day. We are at the top of the food chain. We do not need an allotment, we do not pay luxury veg box prices, and we may have had a hand in growing the food which we later buy, for a nominal fee. But the best part is, the produce in the volunteers' boxes does not conform to supermarket standards. Sometimes it doesn't even look right in the visitors' shop.

So, as well as the beautiful and the heritage, like the tomatoes below, we get to take home damsons (above) which on close inspection are slightly squashed, and parsnips (top) which haven't come out as one might have hoped.

The damsons are simmered into a compote as soon as they get home, and with some judicious chopping and intricate scrubbing the parsnips will make somebody a lovely soup, possibly with croutons.

Not all of the damsons (below) make it into the veg boxes, but these come highly commended in the 'Look at my beautiful compost heap' category.

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