Published on September 8th, 2014 | by Janet Kurasz0
The Second Harvest
Over the past few years, I have focused more energy on vegetable gardening. My interest, like so many, began with a few pots of herbs on the patio and then expanded to including some choice vegetables in amongst the flowers in the ornamental gardens. Eventually, I had containers of tomatoes, barrels of herbs, radishes and leaf lettuce. It seems funny, in hindsight; why didn’t I just build a vegetable garden? Well, that takes time and like so many, I just kept putting it off. Finally, we decided the time had come to install a “proper” vegetable garden. We did our research on various styles of garden and with limited space, decided on the “square foot garden” design. In our case, we created four, 4’ x 4’ gardens contained within a raised bed protected by a barrier of wire fencing to keep out the wildlife. Because we are on a well, with limited water resources, we needed to install a rain collection system which we did by capturing rain water from our house and storing it in a 1000 litre container.
Growing one’s own vegetables and herbs is a rewarding activity: beyond the obvious appreciation of fresh produce, there is the knowledge of the effort that went into the planning, sowing/planting and nurturing; and the absence of pesticides which we now know plays a major role in our health and susceptibility to various chronic illnesses. If one of the goals is to provide fresh, organic food then ideally this food will provide for the entire year. In our climate, that does present challenges. Of course, potatoes and carrots will store for several months, legumes can be blanched and frozen; while tomatoes and cucumbers can be preserved in a variety of ways. Too often we think of vegetable gardens as a summer activity, but there are vegetables that can be grown in the fall, right up to frost.
Extending the gardening season with a second harvest can dramatically increase the yield and allow you to enjoy fresh vegetables into fall and winter. Fall gardening is often easier since there are less pests, and less watering required in cooler weather.
Seeds of beets, carrots, chard, leaf lettuce, radishes and spinach can be sown and broccoli and cabbage transplants (seedlings) can be planted as late as the end August.
Many herbs are perennial, coming back year after year. Sage, thyme, hyssop, catnip, caraway, chamomile, mint, oregano, lemon balm, horseradish and lavender come to mind. Watch out for the mint which can become invasive! Drying herbs is a relatively easy process. Air drying herbs is not only the easiest and least expensive way to dry fresh herbs, but this slow drying process also doesn’t deplete the herbs of their oils. This process works best with herbs that don’t have high moisture content such as Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and Sage.
The ABCs of life, is about getting back to the basics and finding a foundation to build a life upon. The basics, in my opinion, is the simplest approach to living; there is nothing more basic than growing your own food.