What a lovely surprise awaited me after I cleared away the eight feet high briars, nettles, ivy and wire mesh: my own wall of sandstone menhirs, complete with fossils of shells. Eugene has offered me the use of a small piece of land next to my barn for my potagé, or vegetable patch this year. We burned the offending vegetation in a massive bonfire.
By growing my own vegetables, I have gone one further than Mark Bittman, a food critic who wrote a great piece for National Public Radio called Back to Basics, Good for You, Good for the Earth. Mark claims to have lost 30 pounds by only eating fruit and vegetables during the day, after being chastised by his doctor about his high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
I tilled the soil several times before putting in rows of tomatoes, spinach, beans, peas, green peppers, aubergines, radishes, cauliflowers and courgettes. Still to come are onions, melons, watermelons, brusselsprouts, mangetouts, lettuce, sweet corn, cabbage, potatoes, turnips, parsnips and various herbs. I am germinating some seeds in small planter pots and several times a day I examine them closely, but a week later there are still no signs of life and I remain skeptical that these tiny pinhead sized seeds are going to develop into plants, let alone plants that will feed me.
I will plant flowers on my side of the wall. The cats are thrilled with the wall and the new activity. Yesterday Peaches sat on my back as I planted a row of leeks, unperturbed by a light drizzle.
Hopefully I will not only be doing my bit for the earth and my pocketbook, but will have a tanned and lythe new body in a few months.