As I’ve already mentioned, I grew up surrounded by nature, and my parents always cultivated a large vegetable garden. Following in their footsteps, I decided to grow a small vegetable garden of my own a few years ago. After a few seasons of experiments, tests, and trials, it has given me tremendous satisfaction.
When my husband and I moved to California a few months ago, we looked for a home with a lawn for our dog Nina. When we saw the backyard of the house we eventually chose, we immediately realized its potential to accommodate a small vegetable garden.
Although spring and summer are the most luxuriant seasons for a garden and its growers, my favorite season is winter, the time when the garden rests.
During this season, I prepare the sowing and transplanting program to rotate the various vegetables and feed the soil with natural compost in anticipation of spring.
Here, too, I capitalized on the "Californian winter" to take care of the land and maintain the garden as I saw fit. I created a raised vegetable garden in one area to give more space to the roots.
Also, since our backyard is inhabited by cute squirrels who quickly became our friends (we have no intention of driving them away!), we fenced off the entire garden to prevent them from eating our tomatoes. (They love them.)
To encourage the natural growth and development of the vegetables, the garden is composed of layers. The bottom contains around 6 inches of natural small- to medium-size stones that help drain excess water from the soil. The middle layer comprises around 8 inches of natural compost that will feed the plants, while the top layer of soft soil encourages seed germination.
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to grow up surrounded by nature. Observing how a small seed gives birth to what I call "nature's jewels'' has instilled in me a deep respect for the terroir and its products. It also helped me develop a particular sensibility toward taste as well as attention to seasonality.
Look at the fruit and vegetable counter in any supermarket. You will find beautiful, perfect, even shiny goods. If you look at a community garden or ask a friend who grows to show you around their garden, you'll notice vast diversity. The vegetables are almost always smaller than those at the supermarket, and they often have small imperfections, which I guarantee don't affect their flavor. Consuming fruits and vegetables in season is a gesture of respect for nature, introducing us to flavors that awaken the senses.
I always suggest that anyone who loves cooking partake in experiences that put them directly in contact with nature, such as participating in a farm or wine harvest or, if possible, tending to their own garden.
I believe that the future of the planet requires effort from everyone. A good part of this entails consuming only seasonal fruits and vegetables produced as close to us as possible, preferably purchased from small markets or local stores if you can’t collect them directly from your garden.
What are you waiting for? Spring is coming, so get ready!