Lammas, Lughnasadh, or just August 1, is the start of the harvest season. We’re past the longest day, but not yet arrived at the Fall Equinox. The plants know it’s coming though, and they are putting every last drop of sunshine to good use and if you’re like me, you’re probably picking more than you can eat about now.
Having plenty is both a reward and a challenge. It’s a reward for the months of hard work the gardener/farmer puts in. But it can be a challenge to handle all that incoming bounty with the respect it deserves.
Fruit and Veg are two obvious sources of abundance right now. Keeping up with the harvest in my house is a dance between increasing our consumption of the fresh goodness and preserving the excesses that we just won’t get eaten in time. Management can include steering the boy children toward snacks of fresh fruit and veg, as opposed to the raisins or prunes or cheese crackers that we lean towards in winter. Another easy way to put away the greens is to have a dryer going on the table for a week. I can harvest one bunch of greens in the morning, toss it in the dryer, and do a second harvest in the evening, putting the now dry morning batch into the appropriate receptacles. A solid week of that practice will bring herb jars and veg powder stores to brimming fullness.
One of the gals that sells at the farmers market tells me she has to can a canner load every night during the peak harvest season. Don’t despair though! She easily grows 3x what I grow, and I grow a lot. Those of you who don’t grow, should get in on the bounty at the farmers market or farm stand. How do you know what’s in peak production? Look for what’s cheap and plentiful. Even if you don’t want to can a lot, pick something you really like, and just can that, whether it’s salsa or apple sauce. I find I have to plan on one canner load a week, on average during the peak season. It varies from pickles to whole veg to jellies, anything to get the piles in the fridge down to manageable levels.
Another abundant harvest right now is bio-matter. Whether you need more lawn clippings to balance out a compost pile, or some bales of hay for the goats to eat this winter, late summer is definitely the time to grab every last drop of green sunshine. Y’all know my aversion to fancy fuel powered tools, find yourself a scythe and get some practice in! They make these in Maine!
Eggs are another summer bounty. Between the bugs and the garden trimmings, not to mention the abundant sunshine, chickens should be living the good life around now and egg production reflects that. Eggs can be frozen, or dried. Or given away to neighbors for a harvest of good will later.
I’m off to my own harvest, I’m barely keeping up. Thankfully I have two small helpers. What are you harvesting? Have you preserved anything interesting this year?
- Calamity Jane