I’ve found my unguilty pleasure. The more we are changing base camp from Amsterdam city center to our renovated Quinta Monte Velho (Old Hill Farmhouse) in Portugal, the more I am learning to appreciate the autarky way of life around me. Starting a kitchen garden is only a logical consequence.
Living in the hinterland of the Algarve – 30 min from the beach and 2 hours from Lisbon, the best of three worlds for me – makes me realise that the countryside has always been a sharing economy. Nothing new to it.
Kitchen garden baby steps and green fingers
Let me be clear, I’m baby stepping into the kitchen garden world. My green-finger-motivation for home produce is two-fold. Most important, I want to take an active part in the sharing system in this small countryside community.
As soon as we arrive at our quinta, one of the neighbours (do they get an alert, one wonders) walks over with a bag full of homegrown fruits or veggies. By now they all have a Delft’s blue can of Dutch stroopwafels, it’s about time to share something homegrown in return.
Secondly, my green juice addiction. I buy loads of organic fruits and vegetables. Wouldn’t it be easier, cheaper and more fun to grow my own? Yes, it is. The joy of juicing your home-grown brocoli and carrots is priceless. Not to mention the pure taste.
How to choose your first range of fruits and veggies
All you need is a small piece of good soil, water and your green favourites. Pick the ones you love to eat! For me that was Mint, Brocoli, Carrots, Cucumber and (wild) Spinach. I use these a lot in my green juices and they happen to be easy to grow as well. Let’s save Mango, Raspberries, Courgette and Celery for the next level of home-grown gardening.
You can either start from seeds or buy germinated seedlings. Guess what this pragmatic, impatient city girl did. Sun, manure, water and a lot of sweet words did the rest. It sounds simple, because it is. Just do it.
I felt so proud when my first produce was ready for harvest about a few weeks after planting. It would probably go too far to compare this feeling with buying your first vintage Chanel bag. But still.
There’s also a social benefit to this healthy stuff trading system. Apart from sharing home-grown produce, it’s a perfect excuse for small town gossip while exchanging figs and fennel. Will be continued. With pleasure.