Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A question of balance

The thrill  of growing and harvesting some of my own food never ever wanes for me - a handful of beans and a couple of sun-ripened tomatoes can put a smile on my face for the promise of a really tasty lunch :)
I like to be able to pick something from the garden every day of the year if I can, and I can usually manage it - just a few fresh herbs in winter can make such a difference to what you are cooking, fresh leeks, salads in summer, the first sweet small vegetables in spring and the bounty that aumtumn brings, ofcourse.
I do make jam, pickles, wine, bottled fruit, dried vegetables etc, but I rarely use the freezer for preserving my own - they are mainly filled with meat and fish, extra bread, etc and ofcourse - frozen peas!! I do enough preserving to tide me over until the same time next year - it's not good for the soul to open your jam cupboard to store away the new season's jam to find 37 jars left from last year!  Ofcourse, it does keep several years, but I like to keep everything well-rotated and ongoing in the storerooms. Chutney ofcourse, improves with age, so I leave them a bit longer sometimes - depends on amounts made and eaten or given away.
I for one wouldn't like to feel I had to eat my way through 47 bags of frozen runner beans in the depths of winter when I could be feasting on leeks and artichokes, winter cabbage and sprouts, fresh dug and vibrant, nutrients and soul intact.
So for me, it's a question of sowing and growing enough to see me through; admittedly this has come with experience, and only you can learn and know how much your own household will sensibly eat/preserve, but it's worth persevering to get it as close as you can. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats fresh picked and fresh cooked.
It's a busy time out there right now too - all sorts of apples to pick and sort - eating, cider, cooking - hops are to be harvested today in the welcome drying wind, elderberries, beans, tomatoes, rosehips, pears, quinces.......... so much to do to keep on top of it all, but it's rarely seen by me as a chore. What better way to spend an autumn morning under the garden umbrella with a big mug of tea and hop bines to strip at my leisure? Time for reflection and planning, thinking ahead and just taking time out to notice the rapidly changing light, the decline of summer into autumn now very evident all over the garden.
Happy harvesting :)

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