The Accidental Gardener. By Katrina Malone


When I moved to the country last year it was for the peace and the views. The garden is big but I still had no intention of growing and cooking my own produce. I have never planted anything I have eaten before and I wasn’t planning to start.


It was autumn when I moved in, I discovered there were fruit trees because an apple fell on my head.


I started making apple crumbles, that was easy. Then I realised we were eating our own body weight in crumbles and I had to learn how to store them. I joined Food Community. There were loads of fruit bushes in the garden but I had no idea what they were. I felt I should look after them, so I asked for advice.

I learned different fruit bushes liked different soil. Who knew! I fed them, learnt how to share some with the birds, but protect enough for me. I planted a few bushes to replace dead ones. It was more to fill the gaps so it looked better. Little did I know that that fruit was to make me smile more than most things in 2020.

I had bushes with redcurrants, black berries, gooseberries, elderberry, rosehip and sloes. The birds sometimes got there first. The fact that I now think of this as a crop surprised me. So I have planed lots more bushes all bought in Aldi for next year and can’t wait.

I live in the Scottish Borders on the banks of the Tweed, soil full of rocks and stones. I don’t have an allotment, so I carved out a bit of my garden, called it a veg patch and started digging.

the accidental gardener

My carrots and parsnips were wonky but tasty. My spuds were fab but most of my broccoli and cabbage was eaten well before I could harvest it. But what I got from each precious leaf was amazing. I learnt you can make pesto with carrot tops – it tastes great.

All these things will sound simple to the seasoned grower, but to a newbie, small successes are a wonder. It’s a strangely lovely feeling eating something you have grown, they just taste better straight out of your own ground. You watch them grow and proudly present them unadorned on the plate like a prize Michelin starred meal. You award yourself five stars as you eat them.

My fruit trees and bushes are amazing, I had made quince jelly for the first time in my life. Recipes jump off the Food Community website and I make whatever I can. I am now the proud owner of my own homemade elderberry balsamic vinegar. It again is brought to the table like a treasure I have unearthed.

So by now it’s clear. I have the bug, I learned some very valuable lessons for next year. I ask questions and get advice, I feel like I am a newbie still but better armed for next year’s crop. I am officially a gardener, I would have laughed in the past if you told me I would be harvesting and cooking my own fruit and veg. But nothing tastes sweeter.

At Christmas when I open my cranberry and quince chutney and my hedgerow gins and vodka I will be says cheers to the accidental gardener who crept up on me.

Cheers Food Community! You help grow confidence as well as food.

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