While I have been taking a few things here and there, like the globe artichokes. I have been quite simple with these – just pick, wash and steam until tender. Then we normally dip the scales into melted butter and lemon juice but there was this time when we didn’t have enough butter or even any lemons, so I tried a range of other sauces to go with it. I couldn’t leave it for another day as the artichoke was perfect and after rejecting a range of other dipping sauces, I found aioli to be the best and now we don’t even bother to squeeze any lemons. Although it isn’t exactly a healthy treat, but that is probably what makes it a treat!
And then there has been the salad crops, lettuce, spring onions and radish, however I’m not sure my succession planting of my lettuce is completely aligned, in spite of my best efforts and so I am anticipating a gap in the glut in the next week or so. But there are fresh peas, which haven’t made it into a pot yet – fresh is so much nicer. And we’ve had some spuds I overwintered in pots.
There have been pickings from the garden, it has been more of a nibble, and not the full proper harvest of putting crops away for a rainy day like a squirrel collecting nuts kind of a way, until the other day. The garden is a bit of a mess because I have been away and my attention has been held elsewhere, so I have been working my way across the beds – doing the Monday row on the Monday and the Tuesday row on a Tuesday, but that is as far as I have gotten so far as today is Wednesday so I anticipate another 7 beds will get some love. It helps a lot that we are having summer-esk conditions – blue skies, not a puff of that dreaded wind and just all-round gloriousness. I say summer-esk as summer doesn’t start until Sunday – by the calendar, and to be fair after the spring we have had I just don’t trust it. So, I’m trying to make hay while the sun shines, so to speak.
The rules for my weekly maintenance plan are only take care of the needs of the bed in the row in question – no matter how weedy or terrible it looks elsewhere. So, on Monday I tied in peas and tomatoes and removed laterals, and I replaced a dead squash with something greener and sowed some zinnia seeds into some gaps in the cut flower bed. Then I weeded each bed, removing large and small interlopers and hoed the sand around the beds to keep them weed free too.
While this was going on, I had the irrigation system on and watered everything and gave it all a deep watering, so when I gave each bed a liquid feed the soil was receptive to drawing the goodness deep down instead of it rolling off the surface. It is great to look back at the end of the day and see an oasis of control in the middle of a messy garden. It feels good too.
Once the needs of the row are taken care of next comes the emergency work across the rest of the garden and I am still trying to bring the strawberries back to full health after their near-death experience while I was away. Lesson learnt, even in the midst of a terrible spring, make provisions for watering when you go away!
This brings me to the first harvest. I honestly thought it would be the Hunter River White onions as I noticed while tending their beds that a couple had flopped over, but the rest were still growing strong. I thought to myself ‘soon my pretties…’ But on my tour of the rest of the garden I noticed some of the early garlic was leaning over in a jaunty fashion – which isn’t really supposed to happen.
You can normally tell when it is ready to harvest as the bottom third of the leaves start to die off – these are the tops of the ‘wrappers’ that become the papery layers protect the bulb. It was a little hard for me to tell this was happening as I had removed the bottom half of the layers in the battle with the rust. I never quite got on top of it, but a lack of diligence is mostly the reason. So, I dug them up. And just like that I had my first proper harvest.
Come again soon – the garden is full of surprises
Sarah the Gardener : o)