‘Even vegetarians will admit there is a limit to how much cucumber you can enjoy’

ABOUT this time of year I occasionally get an urge to change my lifestyle, to branch out, to do something different, something exciting, live a little.

That’s right, I consider seriously the prospect of becoming a vegetarian. It’s the promise of abundance in the garden that does it. I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables anyway and by mid summer much of that is from our own back garden with the promise – make that a threat in the case of courgettes and beans – of much more to come in the next few months.

With gardening as with farming, of course, there are triumphs and disasters. This year a new variety of cucumber in the greenhouse has been early and, so far prolific. But as even dedicated vegetarians will admit there is a limit to how much cucumber can be eaten while still pretending to enjoy it, but that hasn’t yet dawned on grand-daughters Ebba and Isla who can polish one off at a sitting.

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That’s the present triumph, with lettuce yielding heavily, tomatoes looking promising, early potatoes of excellent quality if low on yield, carrots under fleece growing well and tasting good, soft fruit … sorry, I was beginning to fantasise that I was ghost-writing for Monty Don.

The disaster was, again, the asparagus. This was the year it should have been well established and I planned to carry it to the kitchen in triumph and barrow loads. Man the provider does it again. Result? In spite of dressing the bed with a miracle rock-dust which I decided to buy and try in a moment of weakness and susceptibility to hype, we harvested only a few dozen spears. Come to think of it, the potato bed I tried the miracle substance on is the worst of the four.

But, in general, the crops are looking good and delivering. So now, I muse while walking round them on a lovely summer morning, grazing here and there in the interests of quality control, is the time to stop eating meat and live on vegetables and fruit, as much of it as possible home grown.

Think of the financial saving. Think of the exercise and satisfaction. Think of looking like some of those pencil-thin veggies I know. On second thoughts, think of some of the best roast beef I’ve ever eaten last weekend at my niece Louise’s wedding reception.

My brother Donald was rightly proud of his lovely daughter, but as farmer rather than father almost as proud of the two massive haunches of home-produced beef that were the centrepiece of the meal. Cooked to perfection – plaudits to caterer Peter Allan – they made superb eating.

That was the top end of the carnivorous scale. Further down I thought, pulling another radish, I would miss mince and tatties on an autumn night, a meat casserole on a winter day, roast lamb for Sunday dinner, an occasional bacon roll, even chicken. Vegetarianism? A possibility – but not yet.

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