Sunday, 31 August 2008

Harvest


Harvesting is a two sided coin: on the one side, the satisfaction, the pleasure at the gathering in and the putting into store and on the other the tyranny of the full basket of courgettes or beans, or whatever is this year's glut, crying out to be transformed into something which will keep while the garden sleeps. It is also the time to take stock of how the year has been. What grew well, what failed, what was far more trouble than it was worth, what was wonderful and will go on the list for next year?

It has been a good year for apples for us. Yesterday we picked wheelbarrows full from the Howgate Wonder and there is more to come from the less sunny side of the tree. These are not a problem. They store wonderfully and slowly sweeten so that after Christmas they can be eaten by themselves although now they are a cooker and need sugar. The trickier apples are the ones on the old trees in the kitchen garden. They are smaller and sourer but we can't bear to throw them away. This year's plan is to try some apple juice and we are busily saving plastic bottles with the intention of freezing some if it is successful.

In the kitchen garden we have had successes:
runner and French beans, tons more than we can eat, some translated this morning into Spiced Pickled Runner Beans to an old Delia Smith recipe.
courgettes, firmly in the tyranny category, some huge ones waiting to become marrow and ginger jam.
lovely pink fir apple potatoes
red onions, drying off in the greenhouse
and mangetout and Hurst Greenshaft peas, finished now but copious and well worth growing.
The broad beans were good but there were nothing like enough: note to self, sow lots more next year but don't bother trying to keep them over winter. A February sowing is fine.

We have also had the inevitable failures. The garlic was puny and, having been harvested, is now rotting away as fast as it can go. The broccoli is being consumed by cabbage white caterpillars despite the hours I have spent picking them off and the carrots were bent and strange, our stony soil too much for them.

And then there are the wait and sees: the celeriac looks promising, although there aren't very many of them. The leeks were good last year and we have responded by sowing them in what it feels like their hundreds. It would be good if we get some butternut squash but for that the sun needs to shine for the next couple of months and plenty more sunshine is needed to ripen the tomatoes. The plants are heavy with three or four different varieties, plum, tiny Gardeners' Delight and large beefsteak ones but all remain stubbornly green.

It is not a day for the garden today. Outside it rains softly but steadily. The other side of the valley has vanished into mist. I made pickles this morning and Ian is now making bread. The cat has the right idea.

25 comments:

  1. How right you are about taking stock, noting what thrived and what didn't. Thank you for reminding me that the peas which were a remarkable success here were Hurst Greenshaft.

    I wonder how much we can attribute to living so high and suffering a wet season - while my tomatoes are ripening beautifully in the greenhouse, squash, corn and celariac are dragging their feet (so to speak).

    Thank goodness we are not easily put off - there is always next year and I'm planning already.

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  2. Gorgeous photos - you had me drooling at the bounty, nodding at your taking stock and longing to walk right into the photo of the cat in the window seat. What a great place to spend a less-than-perfect afternoon!
    I caught up with your last post as well - I too am a bit sceptical about those 'Simple Life' magazines and books. All that simplicity often seems to require a lot of money to support it, perfect good health and no annoying details such as proximity to schools for the children. We have friends who this year are homesteading their third place - this time in the Chilcoten - 60 years old, no plumbing, no electricity, no mod cons ...in fact, no house until they cut down the trees and built it.

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  3. Your photographs are always a delight! Garden-wise you obviously have a much milder climate that here in Yorkshire Dales. Our peas - Onward - have done very well and Broad Beans but Bulb fennel has gone to seed before it is big enough to eat and ditto kohl rabi. We have stopped growing brassicas because we cannot beat the cabbage white.

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  4. I found you harvest report fascinating. We've got the usual courgette glut too, and plenty of garlic and cucumbers, nice potatoes (Charlotte), and lovely broad beans and peas; my tomatoes are still green too. But I have total pole bean failure for the second year in succession. So frustrating! That cat definitely has the right idea!

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  5. Lovely new look for your blog, and the pic on the top - something I will keep gazing at to remind me of the view of your valley.
    Your harvest is pretty impressive - I only have one celeriac and I've only just planted it out from a tiny pot so I doubt it will mature.
    But I picked a reasonable-sized courgette today. Just the one.
    Will put the runner bean pickle recipe on the food&drink forum now.

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  6. I love this time of year, your vegetable and fruit garden must be fabulous. I'm drooling with jealousy. It's funny how one year there's a glut and the next year a crop fails. My runner beans are rubbish but the garlic hangs in huge bunches in the shed.

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  7. Wow you've been busy. I'm more like the cat!

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  8. I clicked on here and WOW! that picture ...that view! I love it! I also love your garden but can appreciate how much hard work goes into it to reap such a harvest. You are going to be busy making things in jars now I should imagine.

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  9. I just LOVE the photo of your cat, (wish I was a cat sometimes). I am very impressed with your gardening success this year considering the weather we have had. Well done!

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  10. Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for giving me a place on your fave list. You have got a beautiful blog. It must be a wonderful area where you are gardening. I wouldn't mind sharing this lovely spot with this lucky catchild! A good book and from time to time a glimpse outside into this verdant paradise. Take care. T.

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  11. I remember feeling very fed up when my lovely brocoli was infested - so much so it put me off growing it!. Absolutely adore fresh broad beans.

    That was a lovely, soothing post perfect for a difficult time - thanks for your comment about my shoulder; I'll look into that.

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  12. Reading this post and the one just before it has given me a mini-holiday. What beautiful pictures (with extra attention to the artichoke flower!!) but also what wonderful full information about what grew well and what did not.

    I marvel at how you find time for all this, and agree with Pondside about skepticism on the simple life. As long as one has ample enthusiasm for life, it seems easier to add interests and activities, rather than pare them down!

    xo

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  13. Gorgeous new home page.
    Oh elizabeth, our garden started off with such promise but due to all the rain its been rotting and decaying - potatoes attacked by blight and drilled into oblivion by slugs, brassicas patched with mildews, ill, yellow droopy peas, rusting broad beans and the greenhouse festooned with some melting disease, not even a courgette glut - just pathetic decomposing fingers. But we did have some delicious un-caterpillared calabraise; beetroots and strangely, carrots, have survived the wet and slugs as have the various kales; and the runners are just keeping their head above the water. It just looks…well, waterlogged!
    It was good to loose myself for a moment in the gentle bounty of the Welsh hills.

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  14. Oh to be a cat!
    You obviously have very green fingers!

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  15. I always go weak at the knees when you describe your garden. You make it seem as though everything grows itself, which I am sure is not true. I would envy you all those apples! I have three plantlings on which I can count the number of apples on the fingers of, well, two hands. In fact the whole garden is like that - a couple of bowls of strawberries, ditto gooseberries, a handful of blue berries, two figs, a dozen tomatoes, a courgette and so on. One brussel sprout (self seeded - how?) is struggling manfully against the same caterpillar onslaught. What do you do - I have picked and dusted but to no avail. Each day there are more caterpillars and less plant.
    And now the slugs have returned, big and fat and orange to smirk at me. They must grow in a fortnight!

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  16. Just gorgeous, Elizabeth - am so envious of your abundance, which is doubtless the result of many hours of careful planning, planting, weeding, cutting back, thinning out... Every year I vow to do better, and every year the months somehow slip through my fingers yet again, leaving me with a few paltry potatoes, a few beans and some miserably small courgettes. (H's chillis, however, are coming along famously, despite the fact we've hardly had a summer this year...)

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  17. Beautiful cat. Don't they know just how to relax? And what else can you do on a wet, murky day, but sleep?

    I have had some bumper courgettes given to me, as we have no room to grow anything like that in our small garden.

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  18. Love the picture of the cat - so relaxed. I'm sure it never worries about green tomato chutney, or what to do with all the apples and pears! Lucky thing.

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  19. Lovely posting and I so envy that lovely cat enjoying such a luxurious rest!
    Just to let you know that there's a link on my latest blog posting for all the details of Chester Lit Fest.
    Hope you make some of it!

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  20. Hello

    Dropping in from Dorset.

    Your harvest sounds parallel to ours.

    Apples - lots and large, runner beans - fine, squash - small but tasty, kale - fantastic, tomatoes - green . . . nice crop of cabbage whites . . . would have needed to set an armed guard to frighten away cabbage whites.

    Best wishes . . . I'm on a blog hop.

    Lucy Corrander
    PICTURES JUST PICTURES

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  21. Hello Elizabeth. Thought I had commented on this one already, but it seems not. I do know what you mean about the tyranny, though envy you as we had almost everything eaten apart from apples and peas! Beautiful pictures xx

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  22. Hi - perfect pix and garden report for a homesick girlie! Here we have two growing seasons and enough sunshine to allow butternut squash to grow and ripen like weeds, and chillies and tomatoes to seed themselves ... but I still my cool, green home!
    x

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  23. Obviously what I was trying to say was, "I still MISS my cool,green home"
    Sorry for making a mess on your comments page!
    x

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  24. I have made a mental note of successes and have decided that for next year all veggies will be grown in containers...we've had an awful year for veg crops. Maybe got half a dozen decent lettuces and couple of celery. Fruit was good but all veggies succumbed to slugs and cabbage butterflies.
    We have decided to fill in our small raised bed and make some more containers on pallets!

    xx

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  25. All sounds wonderful but please please DON'T freeze plastic bottles! They leach dioxin...... Sorry to sound such a killjoy but it really is a huge health concern.... jxxxxxx

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