Bit­ter & twisted

NZ Lifestyle Block - - From The Editor - Nadene Hall, Ed­i­tor

It takes a lot for me to grow any cu­cur­bit at all, let alone a bit­ter one. Jenny Somervell has got me pon­der­ing if I need to re­set my taste buds and gen­eral an­i­mos­ity to­wards them (see page 70).

My neg­a­tive out­look was caused by the trauma of work­ing in glasshouses with cu­cum­ber plants for sev­eral years while in my teens. I never read The Day of the Trif­fids be­cause I’m pretty sure it would have given me night­mares. It was bad enough work­ing in 40°C heat and 100% hu­mid­ity. But when it feels like you can al­most see the plants grow­ing – some days you would tie up the top, then have to go and re­peat it 12 hours later be­cause 30cm of plant was droop­ing – and you swear they are reach­ing out to grab you, a story about plants tak­ing over the world would have been too much.

But bit­ter mel­ons look pretty in­trigu­ing. It also seems hard to imag­ine some­thing called ‘bit­ter’ could be ed­i­ble – the grower Jenny has pro­filed (see page 12) read­ily ad­mits they’re not his cup of tea. But he’s mak­ing him­self a liv­ing grow­ing the un­usual veg­eta­bles that cus­tomers, es­pe­cially those who are more re­cent im­mi­grants to this coun­try, want to eat.

I am def­i­nitely all about test­ing new and won­drous things but Shane takes it a whole new level, buy­ing seeds from a Chinese lan­guage seed cat­a­logue and hop­ing it’s right (some­times it’s not!). I love that he’s do­ing some­thing creative, spe­cial­is­ing, start­ing small, slowly go­ing larger scale, be­ing flex­i­ble, and learn­ing all the time. For me, it’s one of the best parts of the life we’re priv­i­leged to lead.

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