The potager shed

The potager shed


Welcome to my blog. This is just my personal garden and food diary. I’m a flexitarian, vegetarian at home, but more flexible when with friends. I’m trying to grow our own food so we leave a lighter footprint on this precious planet.

Over the past six years I have been transforming a one acre former vineyard on a steep hill into a garden. There are distinct areas; an 80m2 vegetable garden, a small orchard, a pond and a sunken path flanked by two long mixed borders.

We are in a small hamlet near Faugères in the Occitanie (formerly Languedoc) region of France. Our soil is rocky schist. Summer temperatures can reach 40℃ and in winter sink as low as -10℃. Water comes rarely but is diluvial when it does.


Brunch in the potager

Brunch in the potager

All summer I’ve been thinking how lovely it would be to have breakfast or brunch with friends in the vegetable garden. Each morning I rise early, feed the dogs then I go down to the potager in my pjs and let out the hens, pick vegetables for the day and water the plants. I take coffee in a flask, and once she’s up, the lovely Ali B brings me down breakfast on a tray.

Breakfast arrives. Porridge, honey from our hives in Valencia and orange kefir.

It’s a joy to sit listening to the birds and enjoying the grand opera that is the start of the day. I thought it should be a joy shared. So this morning we invited our friends Sharon & Paula to brunch with the hens and bees and eagles and dogs and lizards.

Just about everything came from the potager. So what did we have? Why, shakshuka of course! Here’s how it goes.


2 tbsp olive oil from Clermont l’Herault cooperative

2 tbsp harissa - I could have used our chillies

2 tbsp tomato purée

Peppers - red, chocolate, orange and those long skinny red ones from the garden

4 pink garlic cloves - ditto

1 tsp ground cumin

Several very ripe large tomatoes also from the garden

Lots of coriander from - guess where

4 eggs from our girls

Greek yoghurt

Homemade dukkah


Chop garlic finely & add to a wide shallow-ish pan with olive oil. After a few minutes chuck in ground cumin, tomato paste and harissa. Cook for two minutes whilst stirring, then lob in the chopped tomatoes and peppers. Cover and simmer for about ten minutes until the tomatoes look unctuous. Add the chopped coriander and simmer for another couple of minutes. The make four indentations in the gloop and crack good eggs into the hollows. Cover again and cook for around four minutes or until the eggs are as you like them.

Serve with a dollop of thick yoghurt on the side and sprinkle with dukkah. We accompanied the dish with some garlic bread we had stored in the freezer which we reheated wrapped in foil in the rocket stove.

In case you’re worried that the hens might have given us eggs and had nothing in return, here’s their pasta cooking on the camp stove. Of course they’d already had their proper hen food, but like all hens they love extra treats.

We had such a lovely time that I reckon potager brunches might become a feature - at least while the tomatoes last.

And finally…… a great big thank you to the wonderful Debbi Reid for the Tea in the Garden tray. I just love it.



Dry, dry, dry

Dry, dry, dry