“Come through my garden gate and join me for a year in the veg patch. I have chosen ten of my favourite, most beloved vegetables and fruits and created, for each of them, ten recipes that make that plant the star of the show."

We speak to Kathy Slack about her new book 'From The Veg Patch' about how we can all make vegetables the

star of the show on our plates in 2022.

Where did your love for organic food and cooking begin?

My Dad is a great, intuitive cook and he encouraged me to try new flavours from an early age. It was sort of his party trick: 'look my toddler has such an adventurous palette she'll eat mussels, black pudding, even this half lemon...' So I've always been into food. The organic part came when we moved to the countryside and I saw how positive and sustainable farming can be but how tough it is to make that viable.

When you were a Global Strategy Director what would you typically eat, and how often would you be doing that on the go?

Well I used to work on a chocolate brand for a while, so we had a chocolate-filled filing cabinet which was quite dangerous mid-afternoon. Like so many people with hectic office jobs, I'd be inhaling a Pret sandwich on the tube between meetings.

The pandemic has made us all the more aware of a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Do you feel that your diet and lifestyle has helped you cope better throughout lockdown and contributing to improving your mental health?

Undoubtedly. Obviously eating healthily is good for your mental health (I'm really interested in the links between gut health and mental health), but for me it's the growing of it that makes an even bigger difference. I am more connected to nature, which is calming and grounding, and I feel I have agency - something the pandemic took from us all - when I can make my own food.


How long did it take before you started to feel more physically and mentally fitter by growing and eating your own vegetables?

It wasn't really that linear. I would say a combination of the garden plus love, doctors, rest and a spaniel had me at least back on wobbly feet within a year. But depression is something you always have to keep an eye on I think, it ebbs and flows, and you have to keep working at it all the time.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start an organic vegetable patch? 

Start small. A whole allotment can be quite overwhelming, so start with a small space in the garden or a few trugs or pots. And think about the soil - if you feed the soil well, then everything else will be fine.

And for those who live in the city and don’t have access to a garden, how can they still grown their own?

Certainly. Even on a windowsill you can grow herbs which I think are the single best crop to have in a small space - you can put them on all your food and feel smug, plus, the shop-bought bunches can have quite big cardbon footprints.

"Obviously eating healthily is good for your mental health, but for me it's the growing of it that makes an even bigger difference. I am more connected to nature, which is calming and grounding.."

What is your favourite growing season, and are there any vegetables that you like to use throughout the year?

I love late September in the garden. The summer crops - tomatoes, courgettes etc - are still going strong, but the autumn harvests have started too - kale, chard, pumpkins and so on. It's the most abundant time in the patch.

Are there any vegetables that you don’t like growing or eating? 

Jerusalem artichokes. they're very invasive and get all over the garden. And then there's the well-known digestive consequences. Pity, because I do like the taste.

What are your favourite recipes in the book?

I couldn't pick just one, but I do enjoy the pumpkin and sage cake with thyme and feta frosting because people thing it's really odd then taste it and find it's just carrot cake that took a different path in life.

I know some of these recipes still include meat, but is the emphasis on the vegetables being the star of the dish?

Very much so. About 70% of the recipes in the book are vegetarian, accidentally so mostly. If I do use meat, then it's as seasoning and always in service of the star vegetable. When you've grown your own courgettes you don't want to bury them in a beef lasagne, you want them centre stage.


From the Veg Patch: 10 favourite vegetables, 100 simple recipes everyone will love by Kathy Slack is available to buy now. Just click below to order...



a copy of Kathy Slack's 'From the Veg Patch'. For a chance to win, click the link below and follow the steps. Good luck!