Monday June 30th 2008, 5:11 pm

Homegrown seasonal produce sold by the side of the road

Now that summer has arrived, me and my neighbour John, were starting to become concerned that our favourite roadside produce stall might have packed up shop. This is one of those lovely quaint country things, the produce stall beside the road that you just happen upon by accident. It has taken me two years to remember where our favourite roadside table is as it is tucked away down a country lane in a very out-of-the-way place.
Last summer it provided us with a fair amount of conversation throughout the summer; which of us had passed it, what was for sale and more to the point, what had we bought to bring home. This table is always unattended, handwritten labels let you know how much everything costs and a wooden money box, padlocked to the table, sits there waiting for you to post your coins through the slot. Depending what is in season and what time of day you go there, you’ll find a different assortment of produce for sale, freshly dug potatoes, home made jams and chutneys in wonderfully unshowy jars, free range eggs, bunches of fresh herbs and sometimes vegetable plants in pots ready for planting in your own patch when you get home.

Jars of jam and bags of potatoes

So I was thrilled to see the table set up again for another summer of business. Sometimes there isn’t a lot there for sale but the vegetable and fruit print sticky backed plastic that covers the table, makes the display look more abundant however few things are on offer. A 60’s fringed bedspread provides some shade for the goods as the sun moves around during the day. Today I bought a jar of gooseberry and elderflower jam. I have only ever seen someone restocking the stall on one occasion otherwise it is just there on its own upholding the value of trust, and long may it continue to do so. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you where it is because it is a secret.

A padlocked money box holds the cash

Monday June 09th 2008, 11:13 pm

The first tomato fruit starting to form.

At long last the sun is beating down and things in the garden are starting to grow. Everything has been at a standstill for the last 4 weeks or so and this change in the weather is just what’s needed to kick start the seedlings from infancy on to their adolescent stage. The peas have begun to twine around their supports, the first tomato is starting to swell on the vine and the blueberries are filling out with the first hint of blue.

As the peas start to scramble up the pea sticks the tendrils hold on for dear life.

The tomato terrace is coming along nicely, thank you, and so far I am growing 8 different tomato varieties including a white tomato which I found at a farmers market in Bristol the other day. I love unusual things but I have to admit that a white tomato is getting pretty weird even for me. A tomato, basil and mozzarella salad made with this ‘White Beauty’ variety could no longer be called ‘tricolore’. I am still on the look out for a green tomato that is green even when completely ripe and am intrigued to know what colour it would be in its unripened state. Presumably at the end of the season you would need to leave them on the window sill to ripen and turn from green to …. green.
Anyhow, who cares. It’s summer at last, and that’s official.

Blueberries starting to ripen.