“There’s a third of an acre of flowers. And not a vegetable in sight.” John Coe was amazed fifteen years ago. I wasn’t. Back then I couldn’t imagine wanting to grow vegetables. They seemed so boring. Now the kitchen garden is the most exciting bit of the garden. To me.
Back then, I was creating my garden for lovers. I forgot that these lovers might enjoy eating super fresh vegetables and fruit. John’s own garden was the reverse of mine. A small flower garden for his wife and an immense vegetable patch for them both.
In the olden days smaller houses in the country generally sat in a vast plot. Most families raised vegetables, chickens and pigs in the back and flowers in the front garden. Amongst these flowers were tobacco plants.
Back then everyone was allowed to raise some tobacco which would be cured at local smoke houses. There was a capped yet generous allowance for each person.
So people on lower incomes had the opportunity to grow their own and raise a little meat. John Coe sold his eggs to people at work and bartered for things that he needed.
Over the past three years, I’ve started bartering big time myself. I’m happy to return at a weekend and work for a fat roll of chicken wire, seasoned wood to construct raised flower beds, or a brace of pheasant. I pay a decent ‘swap’ for these things – a bit under the market value but never fleece the recipients. Generally everyone is delighted. I always barter for things that I need and would have to buy. I love working for hoarders over the age of sixty. They generally have stuff that they have forgotten that I have spotted and value. Bills are adjusted with happy smiling faces all round.
Although we have an expanding kitchen garden we wouldn’t dream of digging up our herbaceous borders just yet. This is the view from our back door – open from dawn to dusk so that we can dive in all day and enjoy the magic.
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