The First Harvest

The First Harvest

It seems like only yesterday that it was May; the days were lengthening and the landscape was filled with uncountable variations of shades of green.  Now many of those green shoots are ripe and brown.  The thatching straw is stooked in the fields and the deep lanes are full of huge harvesting machines, seemingly driven by teenagers with their little brother on their lap, a mobile phone in one hand and a Jack Russell above the GPS on the dashboard.  Not exactly Ted Hughes' vision. The harvest season is getting into full swing and what were so recently fresh shoots are now being cut down.  How many harvests will the gardener see?


My own harvests are mixed.  I plant two lots of onion sets each year.  One planting is in the autumn to over winter in the polytunnel.  That's usually Japanese Senshu Globes.  They are harvested in May and means that I can stop buying onions in the shops.  The main crop is planted in modules in February or March and then transplanted to the garden.  I usually plant Sturon variety and this year I'm also planting Late Sturon, which I haven't seen before.   I seem to have been caught out by the weather because at some point the onions got too dry and decided to stop growing.  Must be more careful next time.  I think that this year it hasn't been very warm but it has been dry.  I'm lifting the onions now and letting them dry well off under cover.


I've also lifted shallots.  I often wonder whether these are worth growing because they don't get very big. However they keep extremely well and should last well into next year.

I've also had trouble with my spuds this year.  The one warm wet week we had in late May or early June brought in the dreaded blight on my second early crop of Charlottes.  I cut off the foliage and took it away for burning.  I've just dig up the first of the spuds and they are sound, but not very big.


 I'll lift them all on the next sunny day and let them dry well before storing.  I usually hope to be eating my own spuds till early December.  Charlottes are my favourite spud.  They are tasty and waxy, so that they work well in a potato salad.  They are also good roasted, even just with olive oil, herbs and spices and salt.  Any small ones can be cooked whole like this in their skins.

First Apples


Another welcome sight at this time of year is the ripening of the first of the apples.  In my garden this is Exeter Cross, which is a cross between Beauty of Bath and Worcester Pearmain and grown as an espalier along a fence line.  This is a very pleasant dessert apple.  It won't keep but it's good eating in August and September.  They are just beginning to colour up well and need another week or so.

Looking forward

This is also a time for looking forward in the garden.  As one crop is harvested another can be planted.   We can still sow things like beetroot, spring onions, spinach and salad greens - only those things that don't demand a lengthening day.  Perhaps we might want to cover the ground with a green manure for the winter.   In one more month we will be seriously thinking about sowing crops for harvesting next spring.