It’s been a mild fall but the temperature is starting to dip. That means the soil in our raised beds is freezing. When I went out to pull carrots for supper the other night, I had to get a spade and do some serious hacking and digging. We’ll have to take advantage of mild days this weekend to harvest the rest of the carrots, beets and brussel sprouts to enjoy through the winter.
This is the first year since I was a kid that I’ve been able to pull and munch straight from the garden. (I remember pulling radishes, washing them in the pool, and crunching away.) This year’s bounty is thanks to H who has a very green thumb. He’d sat in front of the roaring fire, pouring over seed catalogues and peppering me with questions about what I wanted to grow.
This spring, we got a load of organic soil and set about building the raised beds using reclaimed wood. (H has lots and lots and LOTS of reclaimed wood. He loves wood like I love tomatoes.) At first, the beds probably looked like giant litterboxes to all the neighbourhood cats.
Then, things started to sprout.
The string beans were good, but I was in absolute heaven when the first tomatoes ripened. Three grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches in two days – that’s true love. Then came the carrots, beets and peppers. It was wonderful to savour sweet little orange coins that went from garden to plate within an hour. Our green peppers were the crispest I’ve ever had. And I had a good chuckle as H peeled cooked beets next to my mother for Thanksgiving dinner, terrified he’d get purple juice on her white sweater.
We enjoyed the fresh gifts from the garden, but I’ve got a lot to learn about managing the harvest. First, I need to learn more precisely what’s ready when. Second, I need to be prepared to pounce on the produce and use every last bean without anything going to waste because we didn’t pick and eat or preserve it in time. We lost a pile of beans and peas, about half the tomatoes, some of the peppers, and half the celery. That just can’t happen again.
But I did manage to freeze a good amount of veg for the winter: 16 500 ml jars of tomato sauce, two large freezer bags of string beans, a small bag of peas, two small bags of shredded zucchini, and two large bags of celery soup. This is in addition to string beans, broccoli, carrots, beets, peppers, celery, herbs and tomatoes that we picked and used in meals on the spot. And the pie…that awful pie. But also a wonderful Cooking Light chocolate zucchini loaf.
Next year…look out garden, I’m going to cook you all up.