Here comes the harvest

Untitled Document

February 2014

I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.  I need to have a stern discussion with my future self and discourage myself from getting carried away with the excitement of all the varieties of tomatoes available next spring.  The space allocated to tomatoes in my garden is enough to keep us in tomatoes, in their various processed forms, for a year.  Squishing in the latest must have tomato is just foolhardy.  Unless it is REALLY exciting!

The problem is it is just too hot to be slaving over a hot stove making enormous batches of tomato relish or looking up obscure recipes to find ways to preserve zucchini for the ones that haven’t already been eaten, frozen, pickled, relished and given away in great quantities, so much so that even the chickens are sick of them.  My sweetcorn is nearly ready and will need taking care of in a mammoth session in the kitchen and I am keen to try some sweetcorn chutney this year.

But my kitchen gardening efforts are only just beginning, the chillies are starting to show colour, the peaches are ripening, and those beans just won’t stop.  I really don’t know why I planted so many – we really don’t like them all that much.

One of the benefits of harvesting my crop is I have to get up close and personal with each and every plant.  Much closer than I ever did on the end of a hose.  And I am beginning to notice things.  Things that will help me be a better gardener next year. 

Take the tomatoes – while my new system of training them along a wire held in place with warratahs is brilliant as the laterals that sneak past my attempts to have perfect single stem tomatoes can be trained along the wire like some kind of espalier system.  However it still needs refining.  Under the weight of fully loaded ripening tomatoes – it is too heavy and is sagging dreadfully.  I need stronger wire and possibly more warratahs. 

Squishing in those extra tomatoes have also made it a little cramped and I really have to work hard to keep the air flowing freely around the plants to avoid the risk of fungal disease and the dreaded blight.  I have also noticed a plant that seems to have succumb to stem borer, so I really need to take preventative action next spring when I plant them out.

The wooden stakes I have used for my peppers don’t seem to be strong enough and despite tying them in, they are still leaning precariously.  I really should have used bigger stakes, but those seedlings looked so little.  The pumpkins were a bit of a disaster this year due to the wet weather earlier in the season.  They never really recovered.  Next time I should plant them on higher mounds.

I need a notebook.  I need to write all this down, so in the heady moments next spring I will hold back on sowing so many seeds, I will make wise choices and sound improvements.  As the summer draws to a close, now is a good time to survey the garden and take notes.  What worked well and what really shouldn’t happen ever again. 

Notice the way the crops responded to the weather.  Come up with a plan to deal with flooding or drought and the occasional strong wind.  Were the plants spaced far enough apart or is there room for improvement?  Take note of the varieties that tasted so wonderful that they need to be a permanent fixture in the garden and which really didn’t excite the taste buds so the space could be used for something else next time.  And not forgetting that obscure but delicious recipe to use up zucchini.



Here comes the harvest