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Not so much the hungry gap as the boring gap - February 2015

It feels like we have entred the hungry gap, although it's a bit early. In fact though, there's lots of food still available in the garden, I'm just a bit bored with eating it. It's the old problem of the gap between what I fancy eating, and what there is available. There is still about 50 kg of winter squash lying around, not including a 21 kg pumpkin that I suspect will be too bland to be worth eating. There's a tub of parsnips that's almost too heavy to lift, and that doesn't include the giant parsnip that travelled so far on Twitter last week! There are kale and leeks left in the garden, spinach in the greenhouse, half a dozen celeriac in storage, along with three tubs of carrots, and Jerusalem artichokes still there for the digging. I haven't eaten the mashua yet, and I haven't even dug up the yacon or the skirrett.

There's also a freezer full of food. Mostly it's fruit, but there are still tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and red peppers in there somewhere, along with ready-made casseroles and curries of various descriptions. All of that doesn't sound like hungry or indeed boring, but I'm still hankering after something else.

I fancy cauliflower cheese, cauliflower anything in fact, it's one of my favourite vegetables, but the frost has killed off my overwintering caulis and it's ages since I had some. Likewise the purple sprouting is not looking so good after the frosts, and in any case, like the brussels, it wasn't looking fantastic as I had to re-sow rather late when the mice ate my entire first crop! The few Brussels that there were are long gone, and the last savoy cabbage has gone too, so there's little to scratch the brassica itch.

As usual one crop has failed while others have done fine, and what I should be doing is applying my imagination to what I have. I do, after all, have files and folders and computer files full of recipes. Like everyone, though, I am rather a prisoner to my food habits, and after a day's work I don't always have the time, energy or imagination to think up something new and interesting for dinner.

So tomorrow I shall probably buy a cauli at the supermarket, and possibly some calabrese and brussels too. Is that bad? They are seasonal UK veg after all, not imported Dutch tomatoes or Peruvian air-freighted asparagus. Is it cheating? Does it matter that they will have been sprayed with goodness knows what and rather indifferent quality? Probably. Or am I setting myself too high a standard, too hairy a shirt, in aiming for total veg-sufficiency?

This year I shall grow more calabrese, and more caulis (or grow both more successfully, more like), and freeze more. Sweetcorn and broad beans I shall also grow more of for the freezer, experimental batches having turned out rather well this year. And perhaps I'll find a way to grow purple sprouting and cauliflowers in the polytunnel for protection (the problem being that they need planting out way before the space is vacated by the tomatoes). Perhaps next year, then, the hungry gap will feel a little less hungry, or boring. Next year, in a veg garden, it is always going to be better!