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Growing Veg 2016/#6: Harvesting Begins

Courgette (Zucchini) Basket |

It never rains but it pours. It’s a phrase that has both literal and proverbial meanings, both of which apply to my life at the moment. After a total drought in May and just 10 days rain at start of June, the countryside was beginning to look a little parched and my vegetable beds were rock hard. Buckets of water were no longer enough – it was time to unravel my hose and do some deep watering, biceps bedamned.

I had guests coming at the end of June and was worried that our 35 degree temperatures (95 ˚ Fahrenheit) might be too much for their pale Irish skin. The night they arrived was hot, hot, hot – even in shorts after midnight we thought we would melt. The next day was slightly more forgiving with just a sprinkling of rain, then it was back to full-on heat again. I think we were all a little relived to see clouds on the third day. It was still warm, but not meltingly so. Little did I know that this was to be the beginning of a fortnight of torrential rain and booming thunderstorms.

Torrential Rain Lithuania |

Just a light shower!

I like to think of myself as a “glass half full” kind of girl and was actually quite happy to see the rain. It would be good for the earth and the animals, and would save me the work of watering and the expense of the water. It might also encourage a few mushrooms to grow. Win, win.

Basket of Cep (Porcini) Mushrooms |

Freshly gathered cep (porcini) mushrooms. Photo Credit Loretos Tortai.

The change in the weather had both positive and negative effects on my vegetables. For the most part they flourished, as did the weeds that keep them company. At least the weather is cool enough for endless hours of weeding! The courgettes (zucchini) started to appear in great numbers. Initially I was cutting them when they were still babies, both to enjoy the delicious flowers and to stem the tide of vegetables. I have eight courgette plants and I remember from last year that they fruit well into September – that’s a lot of courgette! I’ve decided to try freezing them this year. I did a trial run and although they are slightly watery and less firm when defrosted, they still fry up nicely once they’ve been allowed to drain. They will also be perfect for soups and stews. Last year I tried marinating them but I wasn’t happy with the results and most of them went in the bin. I hate waste, particularly of a vegetable as delicious and versatile as courgette, so I’m happy to live with less-than-perfect defrosted fruit. They’re 100% organic and have zero transport miles, so to me that’s infinitely better than anything I might buy in the shops over the winter.

My fennel were not so enamoured by the change in the weather. Many bolted (started to flower), which has an impact on their bulb development. I tried cutting back the flower stems to channel the energies back into the bulb but I’m not sure it was effective. They’re still edible, although not quite as fleshy and tender as I would like. I would still recommend them as a vegetable to grow as they’re fairly hardy otherwise – bugs and diseases don’t seem to bother them. I think I will stagger their planting next year, though, so that if one lot bolts I have another one or two sets that might bulb successfully.

Freshly Picked Redcurrants |

The redcurrants also ripened seemingly overnight and it was a race against time to get to them before the birds. Destemming redcurrants is a tedious chore that always seems to leave me with a sore neck and shoulder, but having a freezer full of delicious fresh berries is worth the effort. I freeze them on trays before I bag them so that I can take just a handful at a time for a sauce or cake topping. They are particularly good with fatty meats like duck or goose.

Geese in Orchard |

Chioggia Beetroot |

One of my chioggia beets that I pulled out of curiosity. They’re so beautiful inside,

Speaking of geese, my neighbour recently bought a gaggle of goslings. I was fascinated to see how quickly they grew. They were kept protected for only about a week before being left out to fend for themselves. It is so lovely to watch them pottering in unison around his garden, nibbling on grass and fallen apples. I’m sure they will make for delicious eating and am hoping to buy a few when the time comes. I will miss seeing them, but I get the impression rearing geese for the table is something my neighbour plans to repeat, so hopefully there’ll be another gaggle to watch before too long.

The countryside has come alive with all the rain and warm weather. There is a chorus of crickets from dawn to dusk which seems to be getting louder as the crickets themselves get bigger. There is also a rather vocal frog in our local water hole. After a few failed attempts I finally managed to get him on camera. He’s quite small but rather beautiful.

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Frog in Water |

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. 😮 😮 😮 So many porcini mushrooms!!! Yumm!!! And the beetroot is stunning as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    October 4, 2016
    • Yeh, we had a great mushroom season this year. I got to dry lots of them for winter soups and stews as well as having plenty fresh at the time. Those beets are my new favourite veg! Unfortunately our neighbour’s horse has taken a bit of a shine to them and eaten quite a few, but we’re still enjoying them fresh from the ground. I really recommend them if you grow veg.

      Liked by 1 person

      October 4, 2016
  2. That frog photo is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 14, 2016
  3. What wonderful bounty you have and I just adore the geese. For me the real treasure are the ceps followed by that outrageous beet.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • Yeh, the mushrooms look delicious. Unfortunately they’re mot mine but they were picked in a forest close by so it’s really just a matter of finding a spare hour to go hunting. The beets are so gorgeous – nearly too pretty to eat! I had it for dinner today and it was delicious – not as earthy as other beets I’ve had and so sweet and crunchy. Makes me happy I planted so many!

      Liked by 1 person

      July 13, 2016
      • Mushrooming is my treasure hunting ….. But of course one does need precious time to do it. Beets too are jewels – I went to the little small holding down the lane here yesterday and bought a bunch of deep ruby beauties. There was a lady in front of me aged at a guess in her 80s who eyed them beadily, beamed and declared ‘now THAT is beauty’.

        Liked by 1 person

        July 14, 2016
  4. smfarm #

    Beautiful vegetables! Another idea for zucchini–shred and freeze in preportioned amounts to use in zucchini bread, zucchini cake, etc., in the winter.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • Ooh, good idea, Julie! I love zucchini bread / muffins and storing the veg is much less space consuming than storing the final product!


      July 13, 2016
  5. Already redcurrants?! Hope ours follow you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • Yep – about 2 weeks ago they all suddenly turned overnight. I’m sure yours will do the same. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      July 13, 2016
  6. Great photos of your bountiful harvest. Lots of hard work at this time of year!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016
    • Thanks! It can be hard work but it’s fruitful and enjoyable, so I don’t complain!

      Liked by 2 people

      July 13, 2016
  7. That picture of the redcurrants – I could just dive into it!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 13, 2016

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