Harvest Time

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In my last post, I likened the hail we had received to the robber striking in Settlers of Catan. In the intervening weeks, another board game has dominated my thoughts. Harvest Time is a co-operative game in which (young) players race to harvest their gardens (and help their neighbours harvest theirs) before winter falls. Each roll of the die determines whether you are able to harvest a vegetable or whether you have to turn the scene one tile closer to winter.

I am not yet fearing frost (though it did get down to 5 degrees last night!) but we have most definitely observed the change from summer to autumn. Pea vines are turning brown and drying up, the garlic has been dug, and the first seeds for next year’s gardens have been harvested. Sections of the garden are emptying out as we clear out the debris and prepare to spread manure to nourish next year’s crops. Beans, zucchini, cucumbers, corn, and tomatoes are flourishing and – as in the game – it is a bit of a struggle to keep up.

The plants have proven themselves remarkably adept at recovering from decimation by hail. In some cases, the hail damage even gave them a renewed lease on life as they sent forth new shoots and fresh flowers to replace their damaged extremities. I have been kept busy harvesting peas and beans – almost every day – and cucumbers and zucchini as well. It is sometimes difficult to remember that this bountiful harvest is the goal of our gardening work, and not just a task that keeps me too busy to pull the weeds that are also eager to bear the fruits of all the heat and moisture we have enjoyed this year!

We hope that your full bags of vegetables are helping you to celebrate the harvest without overwhelming you. This week’s orders include potatoes, beets, onions, green onions, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, kale, Swiss chard, celery, herbs (basil, purple basil, dill, parsley, arugula), mixed beans (green, purple, Dragon Tongue), broad beans, Hot Hungarian wax peppers, and the first corn of the season.

As I mentioned earlier, we have already dug the garlic which, unfortunately, was a rather sad harvest. We’re thinking it was too hot early in the spring for the plants to properly establish themselves. We will have garlic braids at fall pick-up but the heads will be much smaller than usual. The heads (if they can be called that!) that were not suited for braiding are being sent out with this week’s veggies.

You may also have been wondering about carrots, which would normally have appeared in your orders by now. Our earliest seeded carrots are flourishing, but unfortunately the ones intended for the winter (three seedings’ worth!) did not germinate well at all, so we have made the difficult decision to save the carrots for winter, when they are a much more significant part of the order, and are hoping that you don’t miss them too much now given the abundance of other veggies.

With the lull in lettuce (though there will be a bit more soon), this is a good time for other types of salad. A couple we have enjoyed lately are:

Cucumber/tomato salad: Cut an approximately equal volume of cucumbers and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Add a generous amount of chopped basil (green and/or purple), a soft cheese (we usually use strained clabbered milk but feta is also delicious), and a bit of salt. Enjoy!

Squash and basil salad (from Simply in Season): Julienne 3-4 medium zucchini. Toss with 2-3 Tbsp fresh basil, 3-4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, and dressing (2 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp sugar). Mix and chill one hour before serving.

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