The fruits of our labours

Here we are in September – according to Keats this is…

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
      Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
   With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
   And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
   With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
      For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.
Potato variety Valor... blight-free and delicious

Potato variety Valor… blight-free and delicious

And, we do tend to think of harvest at this time of year. Certainly we have some swelling gourds in our garden… well, winder squashes actually. We are enjoying an abundance of runner beans and still more courgettes, plus the other day Mr Snail-of-happiness harvested nearly 9kg of potatoes from a plot measuring less than a square metre (we can recommend this particular variety heartily, it’s called Valor). A rather busy summer meant that these particular potatoes were never earthed-up, so the abundance is especially welcome.

Pearl's blankie

Pearl’s blankie

Other projects have their yields too. I was pleased to finish my latest blankie in time to be able to give it to my friend when I saw her last week. Fingers crossed that the babe will arrive happy and healthy and that my work will be used for  years to come. Many folks confine their knitting and crochet to the cooler months of the year, but I love to make things all through the summer too… mind you those often are cooler months!

Winter vegetable seedlings will help to fill the 'hungry gaps'

Winter vegetable seedlings will help to fill the ‘hungry gaps’

But autumn is not just a time to rest on our laurels and enjoy the fruits of our labours – it’s also important to think about what we will be able to harvest later in the year and at the beginning of next year, when there is often little fresh food in the garden. I will be allowing some of my runner beans to go to seed so that I can dry the large butter bean-like seeds for use in soups and stews over the winter (I grow the variety The Czar specifically because they are good for this) and, of course, the squashes will keep for months, but I also want fresh vegetables. I’m happy, therefore, that my seed-sowing from a couple of weeks ago is also showing a yield… not that we will be harvesting these for a while.

It’s really important to remember the cycle of growing and harvesting, so that we don’t get carried away with current successes and forget to plant for the future.

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