The month of plenty. You can literally wander around your garden at this time of year filling baskets, buckets and bags with all the goodies you’ve been growing. It’s okay to be a little smug – if you’ve worked hard you’ll have loads to show for it – but remember pride comes before a fall – sneaky pests and simply having too much veg to know what to do with can easily catch you with your pants down.
Reap your rewards!
Too. Much. To. Carry. Forget the gym this month your arms will be straining under the weight of all your produce. The list of what will be ready is endless so keep an eye on everything. Courgettes will literally double in size while your back is turned. Lifting a few leaves will unveil massive cucumbers that weren’t there yesterday. If you’ve been reading up on what you’ve been growing you’ll have an idea of the optimum time to harvest but use your eyes and your instincts to decide when something is ready for plucking – be confident – you got them this far.
There is nothing worse when growing your own food than discovering something has begun to rot in the kitchen because you haven’t had time to use it or didn’t know how. So with so much food finding it’s way into your kitchen this month you better find a way to use it all up…
Pickles, preserves and soups – oh my!
Don’t waste a thing. If you’ve got some food in front of you that you’re not sure you’re going to eat almost immediately, Google ways to preserve it now! There are many ways to preserve your home-grown produce – in most cases these techniques actually elevate your crops into delicious delights.
Pickling – If you have childhood memories of sharp, unpleasant pickled vegetables banish those thoughts now. Vinegar has been used for generations and with the right combination of spices can make your produce a pleasure. Slice up a cucumber chuck it in a jar with some white wine vinegar, grated ginger and some stem ginger and you’ve got the most delicious zingy accompaniment to burgers and salads. Yum!
Blanching – Basically flash boiling your veg. The idea is to kill any bacteria that causes the veg to rot, without actually cooking it. Different foods have different boiling times so just look it up. Once done plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process and freeze. Simple.
Soups – My favourite way of dealing with excess veg. The only limit to the soups you make is your imagination. Experiment with spices, flavours, textures and have a ball. Then once you’ve created the perfect soup, freeze it in portions and Bob’s your uncle.
Jam’s, jellies and chutneys – The possibilities are endless…
Let the overwintering begin!
Overwintering is the practice of planting seeds now in order to produce crops after the winter has passed. Many vegetables have varieties that can be ‘overwintered’. Do some research and get planting. By doing this you can be harvesting crops as early as next March!
So as September begins you should be drowning in home-grown food and home made products. It’s been a busy month so perhaps it’s time for a holiday. Now the school holidays are over it’s just the right time to snap up some great deals – just make sure you’ve got someone lined up to look after the garden!