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.
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
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