I sat down on the train this morning and smiled with pride at my cargo. On the table in front of me were two tomato plants, just beginning to produce flower buds, which I have grown from seed. 8 of the original 12 plants are planted up in two big troughs in our garden, two have gone to live with Adventuring Jen. These two were going to be divided between two of my colleagues who have been eagerly awaiting their arrival.
On the train I decided to listen to one of the back catalogue of the Speaking of Faith podcasts which I am slowly working through on my iPod. Coincidentally (although I'm sure my subconscious had something to do with it) I chose an interview with Barbara Kingsolver about her book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" which tells the story of a year in the life of her family after they decided to truly eat local - growing or rearing most of their own food, supplemented by the local farmers market. I know of Barbara Kingsolver through her wonderful novel "The Poisonwood Bible" which I read about 8 years ago. The interview has, however, made me want to discover more of her non-fiction writing - I've already reserved a copy of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" at a book shop in town.
The podcast also made me think about the changes that my husband and I are making in our lives related to food and sustainability. Since we've owned our own home, and are settled in our life together we've become gradually more focused on the longer term pattern of our lives. A major part of our lives is the food we eat. I love cooking creatively and also enjoy baking cakes as a key means by which I de-stress.
This year I've also taken on gardening properly for the first time. Over the course of our first full year in our house we managed to clear out the big weeds and over-grown plants from our garden - so this is the first year I've actually be able to plan (well a bit) of what we might grow. We invested in a mini-greenhouse for £15 from the local garden centre and I raised 40 annual bedding plants from seed. They are now in the border, suffering a little from the excessive rainfall, but doing ok considering.
I also had the great urge to grow some plants from food. So far we've been harvesting our first "cut and come again" lettuce crops - which is truly wonderful. I don't think we'll ever buy a bag of salad again. All we do now is walk out of the door and pick it straight off the plant. Within a couple of days a new leaf has starting growing and so we get a steady supply. I've also got a very small container with carrots and parsnips as an experiment this year. The dwarf french beans are starting to germinate (planted a little late, but they'll be ok) and the basil is doing well.
We've also planted two varieties of sunflowers from seeds we harvested from our first batch last year (if anybody wants some, just let me know, I'm sure its not too late). These are growing so quickly I must plan them out this weekend.
If all goes reasonably this year maybe next year we'll see if we can get one of the allotments down the road and grow many more vegetables. I love knowing exactly where what we're eating has come from, and what has (and has not) gone into growing it.