Tag Archives: harvest

Cost-Effective Food Storage

For successful gardeners, the question of how to store one’s harvest always comes up eventually. (For the likes of the rather improbable gardener such as myself, it is somewhat less of an issue.)

Most climates aren’t blessed with a year round growing season so one must make hay while the sun shines, then save for a rainy day. In this climate, literally. That means finding ways to preserve your bounty for the winter months.

This past year I’ve noticed a huge resurgence of interest in canning, pickling and other time honoured methods of “putting up” the harvest. So it’s no surprise that folks are looking back a generation or two for additional traditional solutions, calling up distant memories of how parents and grandparents fed themselves between growing seasons.

Enter, the root cellar. Cheap to make and maintain, naturally cool, highly effective, the perfect DIY project (no electrical wiring required).

Enter, a new generation of children sent down to dark, damp, spider-infested rooms to bring up the ingredients for dinner. Not to worry, we survived the trauma, so will they.

How To Do It Yourself

Want to be all trendy and get your own root cellar, but you’re not sure where to start? Here is an assortment of resources, in no particular order (but I saved the best for last):

Broccoli Bonanza

<b>Broccoli head</b>

First Broccoli Head

The harvest has begun! I’m very excited to report that the 2009 Bumbling Gardener urban gardening quest has at last resulted in some significant edibles. Patience pays off with these things, as does keeping a close eye on bugs and squishing them at every opportunity. (I’ve also been known to spray soapy water as insecticide.)

I think I’m the most pleased to have grown broccoli, which was never something we grew in our garden when I was a kid so has always seemed an exotic thing to find in a backyard garden. Some gardening books classify it as hard to grow too, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

<b>Broccoli Bonanza</b>

Broccoli Bonanza

I hadn’t realized how tall the broccoli would get, and how quickly, so at one point I had to move the pepper plants out from behind the monsters. After a few more weeks, it seemed like all the plant’s efforts were going into producing huge leaves, but no fruit was apparent. That’s when I did a significant amount of pruning, cutting all the lower leaves off — this also gave the squash I’d planted nearby a fighting chance at getting some sunlight.

<b>Broccoli Harvest</b>

Broccoli Harvest

After a few weeks a single broccoli bud appeared at the very centre of one of the plants. My friend Babs had warned me to cut the first one that appeared so that more would grow, so I did — with some doubts. I mean, I’ve never seen a broccoli plant in full “bloom” so I didn’t really know how they grew. I thought each plant grew a single head of broccoli, like a cabbage — one plant, one head. What I discovered actually happens is that little heads sprouts from each “joint in the stalk where a leaf sprouts out. Then you keep trimming them and harvesting tender mini heads.

I’m not sure if it was the pruning, cutting that first bud, or just the fabulous stretch of sunshine and heat in June, but last weekend I harvested a huge bowl full of broccoli! I’ve used it in several stir fry dinners along with cabbage, kale, snow peas and a variety of herbs from the balcony garden.

Verdict: Delicious!

Harvest to Spare? Share!

VancouverFruitTree LogoIt kills me to see trees and gardens laden with fruit and produce going to rot. It’s such a waste!

A friend of mine was walking in Kerrisdale a few weeks back and came across a tree laden with beautiful Bing cherries that were ripe and as yet untouched by birds — a most unusual sight. There were a few branches overhanging the alley, so she and her partner sampled a handful — not only did they look good, they tasted amazing. A few days later, the cherries were still there, beckoning, with no harvesting efforts in evidence.

Being a good citizen, she curbed temptation and instead wrote a witty note offering to share the bounty if the home owners would allow her to harvest any fruit they didn’t want. She waited by the phone for days, but to no avail. A week later, the cherries were decimated, and the note she’d left under a rock on the porch was still there. Sadly, the home owners were clearly not in residence.

If you have a bounty of fruit or produce, or if your elderly neighbours are no longer able to harvest theirs, The Fruit Tree Project is just what you need.

It’s a basic, common sense idea: connect people who have excess fruit from their backyard fruit trees with those who have the time and energy to harvest it, all for a good cause.

Most of the harvested fruit is donated to community organizations and individuals in need. The Fruit Tree Project also partners with Community Kitchens and other local organizations that use the fruit in educational programs, such as the importance of fresh produce in a healthy diet, canning workshops, and other food security activities.

Skip the unnecessary guilt and bad karma — get on their list quick, before your fruit all rots on the ground!

Early July Harvest

Lone RaspberryAlong with the bounty of broccoli the first week in July, I also harvested a huge bag of kale (my new favourite stir fry veggie), more snow and regular peas than I could carry in two hands, a single raspberry, and my first ever cabbage.

Confession, the peas didn’t make it out of the garden. The only thing better than fresh raspberries, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine — is plump, juicy, fresh green peas, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine. Really, it was just efficiency; the pea pods went straight into the compost bin. Consider it the circle of life — and a very delicious circle at that.

1st CabbageThe cabbage I harvested was a full 6″ in diameter once all the outer, ratty looking leaves were removed. That’s bigger than it sounds! The thing that surprised me is that it’s crisp, juicy and crunchy compared to the ones I buy at the supermarket.

The kale is amazing. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Yum, yum! I still haven’t gotten tired of the sauteed in butter with fresh lemon kind, but quite a few people have mentioned other options, including tossing it in olive oil and baking it in the oven until it’s crisp and crunchy like chips. That sounds interesting, especially if I sprinkle a little seasoning on it. I’ve also heard it’s good in soup and stew, so I’m sure I’ll be checking online for additional recipes, once I’ve tried every possible combination of herbs from the balcony (thyme, sage, lemon basil, regular basil, green onions, chives, oregano, cilantro, and parsley).

What I really love about the kale is that in one day from 4 plants, I harvested what would cost est. $24 at the farmers market. And it just keeps growing!