Deborah Baldwin shares the secrets of her family’s gardening success

Chaz-and-Henry-with-yet-more-potatoesBusy mum of three, Deborah Baldwin, shares some top tips on getting the most out of your vegetable garden, with some delicious recipes ideas that even picky children will enjoy……..

One of the reasons we moved here was for the lifestyle, bigger house and garden, keeping chickens, having a vegetable plot, etc. Well, after 4 years, we have just started to master these arts! Growing vegetables are not quite as easy as I expected but luckily, my husband Mark had some expert advice from a very good friend and neighbour which now makes him ’The King of the veg plot‘!

everyone can help

We have learnt not to plant too many courgette plants as you end up with an abundance and wanting to kill the next courgette you see.

Butternut squashes, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, onions, peppers, beetroot and potatoes we cannot get enough of, and are all, reasonably easy to grow.

Please note though, do not go on holiday whilst ‘owning a veg plot’ unless you have a really good friend that is prepared to care of it and reap the rewards as we ended up returning, after 2 weeks of holiday, to a jungle!

Not good, it took Mark another two weeks (at least) to get it in some sort of order.

stuffed courgetteOn the plus side, we have had some wonderful meals from the veg plot.

You can make great courgette spaghetti; just peel the courgette with a veggie peeler into strands until you reach the seeds and steam, lovely with carbonara sauce, etc.

Stuffed Marrows

-very 1970’s I know, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Cut the marrow/ overgrown courgette down the middle length ways, scoop the seeds out and place in a roasting tin.

Fill the cavity with left over bolognaise ( or any mince based recipe) and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for approx 1 hr – 1 ½ hrs or until tender, depending on size of marrow.

Serve simply with some pilaf rice or pasta in a tomato sauce.

Mixed Roast Vegetables

Add whatever takes your fancy, potatoes, squash, courgette, etc.

Chop everything into about 1 inch squares, put into a roasting tin, lightly coat with olive oil, add paprika, herbes de Provence crushed garlic and season with salt and pepper .

If you want to add tomatoes & onions as well, leave these out until the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Pop into a moderate oven, around 180°c for 40 minutes – 1 hour et voila!

Lovely served with a simple roast chicken, easy but looks very impressive.

Brilliant Barbecues

All-ready-to-accompany-our-barbequeI love it in the summer when we have barbeques, there is nothing like filling your table with food that is ALL home-grown.

Potato salad with frankfurters and boiled eggs from our own chickens, mixed salad, pickled beetroot and tomato and mozzarella salad with home grown basil as well.

It really makes the work that you put into it worthwhile.

Tantalisingly Tasty Tomato Soup

Charlie loves the tomato soupA while back, I was watching Saturday Kitchen and James Martin made a tomato soup from fresh tomatoes, at the time I had a fridge full and thought that looks simple and tasty so decided to give it a whirl…

It went down a storm & was sooo delicious.

Really shocked that my 5 year old ‘allergic to vegetables’ son ate it, with a fresh baguette, it was a perfect Saturday lunch.

Here is a link to the recipe, enjoy!

Getting stuck in

To be honest, a lot of our vegetable growing is very much, give it a go and see if it works.

We grew cornichons for the first time this year but they ended gherkin size as we kept missing the very short time slot to pick them, however , we did end up with a couple of jars of pickled gherkins that are ideal accompaniments for burgers. Great for us as these aren’t readily available in France and a real necessity for us ’Southerners ’, you can’t eat a burger without a ‘Wally‘!

Well, that’s all for now, as I have said, give it a whirl and see what happens, worst case scenario, even “dodgy” vegetables can make a lovely soup.

Bon appétit!

Article kindly provided by Deborah Baldwin.

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