Posts Tagged ‘Harvest’

A RED ARMY OF RUSSIAN TOMATOES KEEPS THE WOLF FROM THE DOOR – 4th week of Sept. 2012

The bad harvest reports in the news this year prove, once again, that farming is very different from organic kitchen gardening. Not everything did well in the garden, but in general, I have to admit it was my best year ever. The brassicas suffered but are recovering now. My fault entirely, I should have covered the cabbage patch with fleece to prevent the cabbage white caterpillars making flitters of the lovely healthy green leaves. Such is life, thankfully the rainbow chard leaves have kept me going as a fall back leafy vegetable. Meanwhile, everything else has come good, more or less, apples, blackcurrants, peas, beans, beetroot, basil, parsley, potatoes etc. Leeks coming along nicely for harvesting over the winter and early spring hungry gap.

The glut at present is the Black Plum Tomato crop (Lycopersicon lycopersicon). I bought seeds from www.irishseedsavers.ie and they are described as ‘productive heirloom from Russia. A cordon, ripening from mid-August. Rich red mahogany plum-shaped fruits, delicious in salads and sauces’. The south facing greenhouse, rich soil and a regular comfrey liquid feed gave these Russian plants a good chance to produce prolifically. Glad they are good for sauces, as they will all find their way into various dishes requiring bruschetta topping

Black Plum Tomatoes on one of four plants, two in the ‘phone box’ and two more in the ‘Fingal Greens Greenhouse’. South facing garden helps tomatoes ripen fully on the cordon.

, pasta sauces and for the remainder, good old chutney. Thank you people of Russia ( and the Irish Sed Savers Association in Scarriff) for the ‘black plum tomato’.

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LOW BEE NUMBERS MEAN LESS BLACKCURRANTS – 1st week in August 2012

The remaining harvest from two blackcurrant bushes. Once stalks are removed and fruit rinsed, the blackcurrants are frozen in small lunch boxes for adding on top of hot porridge at any time of year.

To paraphrase Eamon Dunphy – I got a good – not a great – blackcurrant harvest. Whereas last year, the blackcurrants were in great clusters amidst the verdant vibrant foliage, this year I had to search for sparser clumps of fruit. Anecdotally, I notice fewer butterflies and flying insects such as hoverflies and bees this summer compared to last year. The cold and wet weather and less sunlight may all be factors. I guess I should be thankful to have a harvest, mediocre as it may be.

To help me find every last ripe blackcurrant, I took secateurs in one hand and collecting container in the other. Found myself a low seat and went currant spotting! The old branches bejewelled with fruit were cut out at the base and the fruit could then be picked in comfort from the pruned branch. The harvesting also became a thinning exercise. In the autumn I will mulch the blackcurrant bushes with compost and hope they grow again vigorously next year. Mind you, they are around 20 years producing fruit every year, so they have given great service, you could say.

GARLIC BULBS SMALLER THIS YEAR – 4th week in July 2012

The garlic has ceased growing and the leaves have turned brown indicating the time to harvest has arrived. I took the chance of a fleeting dry spell to lift the new bulbs and set them aside to dry naturally in an old metal griddle, out of the rain. A bit disappointed with the size of the garlic bulbs which I dug up with a garden fork. I guess the mild winter and wet summer do not make for good garlic growing conditions.

However, the first garlic bulb has already been used in cooking. No complaints about the taste – small is beautiful as E.F. Schumacher said! Being freshly harvested cloves, the skin simply rubbed off in my fingers. I hardly needed a knife to prepare the home grown garlic for cooking.

The rain is a pain for most growers, except for the lucky ones who are mainly tunnel or greenhouse based. That being said, the peas, beans, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, chard, beetroot and herbs are growing well outdoors

This year’s garlic harvest. Smaller than last year due to milder winter and wetter summer.

. The lettuces look a little battered and sad, while the apples could do with some sun, like us all! In the next dry spell, I hope to get time to harvest the blackcurrants. Rain or shine, they are ready for the table or the freezer. Blackcurrants are a taste of a sunny summer’s day, which I can imagine if I eat them with my eyes closed, topped with some yoghurt and honey!