As I mentioned a while ago I've now got the beginnings of a herb garden. It's not fancy or complicated, but I intend to expand it over time. It's not like I don't have the space!
I've also recently put myself on a low carb diet, so my eating habits have changed quite a bit.
Which brings me to the subject of fruit. I can't really eat most fruits, as their sugar levels are way too high and not compatible with a low carb diet. At some point in the future I'll be able to loosen up a bit, but for now I want to try my best to stick to a strict regime.
I can, however, eat berries in moderation (not exactly my favourite word!).
When I was growing up in West Clare late summer and autumn meant walks down country lanes in search of blackberries. We'd collect as many as we could and bring them home where my grandmother would then make jams and other delicacies. In later years we lived beside an unmaintained orchard which used to produce a fairly good crop of berries as well as a huge quantity of apples.
So while I was growing up I got used to having homemade jams and chutneys. In fact with the apples we used to have so many that we almost ran out of ideas of what to do with them!
My mother has been growing apples and various berries with quite a bit of success for the last few years. On my most recent visit she was busy making jam with her blueberries, which is quite impressive. Just look at the size of the bush she has in the garden:
I had been mulling over the idea of both expanding my little herb garden and possibly dabbling with some fruit, so the current range of "special buys" in Aldi caught my eye. Like most Irish supermarkets they nearly always have a few potted herb plants, so I picked up a mint one this evening and have put that in a planter outside. Mint has a tendency to colonise a garden, so by keeping it in a relatively large planter I'm hoping to give it enough space to grow into a reasonable size plant, while stopping it from taking over the rest of the garden. I love mint, but I really don't want it taking over my life!
But the "special buys" really caught my attention. They're currently offering a number of fruit plants at very aggressive prices. You can choose from blueberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, gooseberry, tayberry (?), grape or goji berry with the plants being 1 - 2 year olds. At the price they're offering them you can't really go wrong - €2.99 each. Since I'm no expert of fruit plant prices I thought I'd check to see how they compared to some of the garden centres. Woodies, for example, are offering similar plants with prices starting around €6.99, while other sites are charging considerably more.
Of course planting these berries now won't give me any fruit this year, but that's perfectly fine, as long as they survive the winter I could have a crop in around 12 months.
I think it's worth giving it a shot. Worst case scenario the plants die and I'm out a few euro. Best case scenario in a year's time I'm filling my freezer with fruit.