Time to Harvest

bloodiedquill

I’ll be wandering a bit off the writer’s path for this post. Right now, our sights are focused on the harvest, particularly because this is the first year my youngest has participated in the growing and harvesting.

It’s mid-September and here in southern Manitoba we’re only just beginning to get our summer temperatures. While Care gardened from containers this year (with some crazy results!) we’ve watched others with traditional gardens lose their tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and peas to the cold and damp. Our containers held peas, carrots, yellow and green beans, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.

I can not garden. I am known by friends and family as the one that kills even the silk plants (seriously, I had a silk arrangement that the leaves kept falling off of) so I tend not to attempt such things. However, my youngest seems to have green thumbs, fingers, toes and perhaps an entire leg, so we purchased several large bins, 100 litres of large gravel, and 625 litres of soil and created our little patch of green.

The tomatoes took off like gangbusters almost immediately, growing to their current height of 4′ – far above the plant cages we have supporting them. Each of the three bins holds two plants, and we’ve had only a handful of vine-ripened fruit from them. There are a lot of green fruit still on the vines, and we’ve picked about 5 pounds so far. We’re trying to ripen them in a dark – and dry – place, hoping not to lose any more to rot.

tomatoes July
Tomato plants in late July.

Care has expressed an interest in canning her tomatoes. Our family eats canned tomatoes on Eggy Bread (aka French Toast) instead of syrup, we make macaroni and tomatoes, we make soups; we’re a tomato family. With the fruit from our plants being so small and ripening oddly, I don’t think we’ll get enough to make a big batch, but perhaps we’ll be able to put up a few pints to show for her hard work in our little garden.

The cucumber plant has exploded in the last week, developing six new flowers which have turned into tiny cukes. Three others are larger and can be picked any day now. We’ve already had ten others from just the one plant. Then again, cucumbers like lots of water. 😉

The tiny carrots grew well, despite being crowded and my not being familiar with this type. Once we thinned them out, they reached maturity at 2″ in length and about a half inch in diameter. We had several dinners with fresh carrots and beans, once with peas as well. The beans are done now, even though the yellow bushes are trying to flower again. The peas only produced enough for a half-cup, shelled. Next year I think we’ll skip the peas.

The lettuce was done before we even managed to pick any. Unfortunately, it looked nearly dead due to the rain early on, and while we were away for a few days, it went crazy. By the time we were back, we only managed to salvage a dozen leaves from four plants. We may skip it next year, too.

peppers August
Pepper plants at the beginning of August.

The peppers are going crazy right now. The plants have grown at least a foot in the last week, and where there were no bells before, there are now at least ten – both red and green varieties. Unfortunately I don’t think the reds have time to ripen fully, and I’ve never had to force those to ripen off the plants before. Any advice towards that end will be much appreciated… please leave a comment if you have any ideas!

early harvest
Lettuce, carrots, beans and cucumbers from first harvest, Lughnasadh.

By the end of next week, I believe we’ll have to have the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers off the plants, as I don’t imagine the unseasonal temperatures will last much longer. We’ll share our harvest at our Mabon circle, gifting our grove-mates with little tomatoes and cucumbers. The plants we will leave for the goddess to take back into herself, for sustenance as she rests over the cold winter months.

It’s been a good year, even if it has been crazy.