I’ve just spent 2 weeks doing nothing but harvesting in the garden (no time for anything else during a PDC). It rained almost all of that time on and off after a very dry period so you can now imagine that my garden looks like a forest pretty much. The corn is over 2m tall with sunflowers above that, it looks as though there are about 4 layers of the forest garden below that canopy, and all the wild weeds that are pretty much permanently in the garden like purslane, both golden and wild, heartsease, lambs quarters, magenta spreen, calendula, amaranth greens (wild version) are everywhere there was a space for them.
It’s time to harvest sweet corn, Austrian hulless pumpkins as they go yellow, for processing, peppers for processing, tomatoes for processing, basil for processing, stevia for drying, time to sort the asparagus bed ( if you leave the female plants to go to seed you may have an asparagus problem next season… I’m going to mark all the female plants and dig some out in the winter and replace with crowns from the best male plants which always produce more asparagus spears. Pumpkins coming out our ears, we’re eating Zimbabwe squash and Delicata first then we’ll follow with Red Kuri and Buttercup, then the long Keepers Butternut, Hopi Grey, Grey Hubbard Squash and also Crown.
Time to cut back the globe artichokes if you haven’t already done that, the sooner you cut them back the sooner you get the next crop of artichokes…time to dig potatoes and store.. it feels like time to do everything!!!!!.. and most critically it’s time to plant the winter garden.
I’ve been burrowing in my spring compost heaps to see if they are ready to use… they are still full of life, worms, microbes doing all the breaking down of the original material so not quite ready, they may have been if I had keep them a little moister earlier on when it was very dry. I may have to plant some winter beds before the compost is ready then add it later.
I thought I was doing really well getting my Brussells sprouts and kale and collards in last month but the birds found the plants and have really set them back. I’m really sick of having work so hard to get things in on time only to have that happen so it looks as though we just need to be prepared for it right from the beginning and cover the beds with hoops and have bird netting over them. Building sparrow populations are a real threat to food security and finding ways to deal with that is a high priority if we are serious about feeding ourselves and not eating supermarket food from China.
One of the great successes in my garden this year has been a trial I was doing to find a way to mulch the berry beds without having to collect or bring in mulch. I tried a few things, evergreen comfrey planted in a row around the outside of the gooseberry and currant beds, I tried asparagus peas and I tried Alpine strawberries as a mulch on the Marion berry bed. The evergreen comfrey formed an outstanding ground cover all season, the asparagus peas were useless as a way to suppress weeds, and the straw berries were also pretty good. I will use evergreen comfrey more for that sort of thing I think… maybe even my raspberry bed .. they are not suckering raspberries.. it wouldn’t work with suckering raspberries. Evergreen comfrey is available in our perennial back order system this year for the first time
My Essene flaxseed is harvested waiting to be threshed and winnowed, and so we almost have next years pumpkin seeds and flaxseed ready to begin the cycle again of being turned into our biscuits that we eat instead of bread most of the time.
It’s now almost 7 months since we stopped buying food and it feels better and better, we don’t even notice it any more, and we prefer our own food anyway.
This is my latest recipe.. it is really really delicious, a wonderful way to store those summer treats.
Eggplant pepper tomato oil pickle
2kgs eggplants, any kind
1kg onions, any kind
1 kg peppers (any kind, if they are hot the sauce will be hot)
2 kgs fresh tomatoes
2 bulbs of fresh garlic
unrefined seasalt to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tbsp black mustard seeds
1 Tbsp turmeric powder
1/2 litre olive oil
Char eggplants, peppers, onions on the BBQ (ours is a rocket stove BBQ)until soft. Remove and when cool peel off charred skins . Chop into chunks, then ¼ tomatoes, removing hard cores. Finely chop garlic.
Add oil to wok, the garlic and soften, then add cumin, and mustard seeds, cook 2 minutes then then add all ingredients except tumeric, and gently simmer until all the runny liquid is gone and it is a thick consistency.. add turmeric stir whiel gently cooking 5 more minutes. .
Pour into small hot jars with hot lids ready and seal.
The forest garden is pumping, now that it has rained we are going to have to cut the tagasaste back a lot. Many of the other legumes are showing themselves now too, Some of the Siberian pea trees are over1.5 m and the tree medick is growing fast along with the eleagnus species, the lespedeza bi colour and the tree lupins… the cornus are growing very slowly right now but are still hanging in there after the dry period. We have 4 distinct layers now ground cover, low shrubs/perennials, chop and drop small trees, and fruit trees. Check our Design Your own Forest Garden Booklet available in both booklet form or e-booklet for more details on how to design these regenerative systems.
The fruit trees are beginning to take their places in the forest garden and many have small amounts of fruit, prune plums, apples, peaches and nectarines this season.
We have raised our best poultry ever this season on curds and comfrey and alfalfa, we’ll do that every year now, they are big birds well built and maturing early which means they have been well fed. It’s almost time to choose our replacements, choose the oldest birds that have to go and put all the extras in the freezer. Our chickens are still laying 6-8 eggs ( 8 birds) every day since July, but the Indian Runner dicks are almost finished moulting now. They also have done super well on curds and comfrey and free range behind the cows during the day. I’m hoping they will be laying when the chickens stop and have a break.