I don’t involve myself much in herbs when I cook. There are a few reasons for this.
One, we just moved and I haven’t got around to planting any.
Two, the dried ones are all in unlabelled jars because I am married to a chef and he doesn’t need them labelled. But I am not a chef and I could really do with them being labelled. I used nutmeg instead of cinnamon once. They are not the same thing.
Three, I am generally cooking for myself and a three year old who really couldn’t give a stuff about my homemade delights and would much prefer frozen peas (that’s right, as in not defrosted) and mangoes.
In contrast, Gregory is a bit of a herb nerd.
He uses all sorts of them in his dishes at the restaurant, which means we have all sorts of them growing in the Hartsyard kitchen garden. Purslane, verbena, bronze fennel, pineapple sage, four different types of basil, chocolate mint, apple mint, regular mint, something that looks like mint…
We’ve got passionfruit vines, fig, lemon and lime trees, sorrel, warrigal spinach, strawberry plants (though no strawberries because Q gets to them before anyone else can) borage for the bees and Andy’s desserts, society garlic, (which is pick of the names if you ask me), tomatoes and several beds of unidentifiable goodness.
That’s part of the fun of a harvest in the Hartsyard garden.
Nothing is labelled.
Which might be alright if you’re either Gregory or a gardener, but when I last had to do the harvest on a blazing hot summer’s day with a newborn and a tantrumming toddler in tow, I nearly stabbed myself in the eye with the secateurs.
There I was, trying to keep 2 week old Edie away from the sun and the ants, stop the Mighty Quinn from ripping the plants up in her fury, fight the bees for the borage flowers, all the while searching for the purslane which I can’t find because I don’t know what it is or what it looks like and NOTHING IS LABELLED TO HELP ME OUT!!!!!!
Under other circumstances it would have been quite lovely. It’s really beautiful actually, all the different colours and smells. I like how everything in there represents an opportunity to make something that little bit sweeter, or sharper, or tangier or tarter.
Last night Gregory came bursting through the door full of organic fervour;
‘Guess what three different guests said to me last night! They said the produce tasted so fresh, that the sorrel literally burst in their mouth with flavour.’
Told ya’. Herb nerd.
When we first opened, Gregory had delusions that he’d be able to manage the garden and greenhouse himself. When that quickly proved an impossibility we roped in Sheena, a high school friend of mine who got discouraged every week when she came to rotate the plants in the greenhouse only to discover they’d been stripped of any sign of life in order to meet the demands of the kitchen. Next we persuaded one of my brothers who was in between adventures to fill his time bar tending and gardening for us, but when adrenalin called he was off again and we now have the delightful Sean and Leanne of Contended Gardens running the operation.
Just like us, they’re a husband and wife team with two young daughters who sometimes come to help their parents out.
Unlike us, they both know their way around a vegetable garden, and I don’t think their daughters have tried to pull up the pansies.
It’s pretty cool actually. Gregory tells Sean what new dishes he’s dreaming up and Sean plants what he needs to make the dish come alive. Hartsyard has a personal grower. How gucci is that!
Sean is also busy sourcing bees, worm farms and I like to think he’s constructing a scarecrow in his spare time.
I would like to offer a full disclaimer that the lack of labelling is not the fault of Team Contented Gardens, and rests entirely with Team Llewellyn/Hart. And as coincidence would have it, at the time of writing this blog, I received an email from Leanne politely suggesting we do just that, and even add a log book so we can record what’s being harvested and when.
Which is a brilliant suggestion because late last night when Gregory’s muses hit, he informed me that he plans to do a dish featuring the 14 different types of tomatoes growing in the Hartsyard garden.
Fourteen different types of tomatoes.
I’m here to tell you that if they ain’t labelled, I ain’t harvesting.
Happy Thanksgiving folks. Huh. I only just realised how apt this blog topic was, considering the origins of the holiday – being thankful for the harvest and all that.
Jeez Hart, you could have played things a lot cooler than that.