It is that time of year when the fruits of our hard work are a plenty in the garden and the field. There is nothing quite like harvesting your own, home-grown vegetables, it’s one of the most rewarding parts of the process. All the months of nursing tiny seedlings into strong plants, watching them blossom into beautiful flowers, finally give fruit to yours and their labour.
Every Friday a group of us wake up at sunrise and go down to the field for our weekly harvest. This month has been the peak of our growing season with a huge, colourful variety of vegetables to put on our plates and those of others. From beetroot to kale, to gigantic heads of cabbage to broad beans, lettuce, courgettes, peas, turnips, spuds; this season has truly been a successful one despite some of the unpredictable and tumultuous weather.
However sometimes the sheer amount of amazing food can become slightly overwhelming. It is a sorry sight to see a beautiful bunch of kale wilt or courgettes go soft and rotten yet during peak harvest season sometimes the amount of food can outnumber the amount of mouths to feed.
This has given us cause to become more creative in finding ways to preserve all these precious vegetables, fruit and herbs so we still have them to look forward to in the depths of Winter. We have been making lots of pestos with all our leafy greens such as kale and rocket mixing it with wild foods such as nettle as well as adding different types of cheeses and nuts to the mix and then freezing it in plastic containers. Other vegetables are better for pickling such as beetroot or courgettes. With a lot of our herbs, especially those we use for teas, we have been drying them on baking trays in a sunny spot indoors and then putting them into jars to see us through the colder months. There are lots of great recipes to preserve food online, so go get adventurous with the preserves so that you have it all to look forward to after the harvest.
Post- harvest is also a crucial time for our soil to recover after all the energy it has given the food we have grown within it. Once crops have been taken out of the ground we have been covering it in different types of green manure such as clover or rye. Simply sprinkle these seeds over harvested zones so that nutrients don’t get washed away through a Winter of bare ground. This way, the next time you plant in this patch it will be full of life and energy to nurture your tiny seedlings once again.
Harvest time is really is a special time of year and one to be celebrated after all the hard work you have put into the earth. If you have time on a Friday evening, come down to the garden for our weekly cook-ups and taste some of the dishes we have been preparing with all the food we have grown. We also have some recipes up on our blog http://www.moyhillcommunitygarden.wordpress.com that you might want to try out for yourselves.