Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Third Wednesday Harvest

It's the third Wednesday of the month (really. I checked.) so we met in the garden again this morning to harvest for the food bank. "We" meaning me and Tammy - I have to say that harvest is probably one of the facets of this whole program which could use a little tweaking, since often it's just me out there, frantically slashing at swiss chard before work while the clock ticks. But we have over a dozen large pumpkins starting to ripen, and I pulled a few of the largest onions. The take was rounded out by a couple of bags of squash and 3 more bags of swiss chard. Not bad.

I have to say that the swiss chard raised some eyebrows last spring. Some of the gardeners weren't sure that something so "exotic" as swiss chard would be well received at the food pantry, whose customers tend more towards basic staples. But of everything we planted the swiss chard has been the earliest and most productive by far. I'd have to go back and look at prior harvest photos to be sure, but I think one 40' row of seeds has produced at least 10 large bags of fresh, healthy vegetables to date. It's also having the good grace to continue producing through some drought, and should finish up just about when we really need the space for potato harvests and expanding squash vines.

Meanwhile, I'm technically not the person to judge when the onions are ready, but some of them looked so enormous and seemed to be crowding their siblings so I just went ahead and pulled a dozen or so. They're kind of wild and funky-looking, aren't they? I should have known better than to load them into that basket, since it's basically a glorified Easter basket and the handle wasn't nearly strong enough. It cracked, and I had to load them in the car by holding onto the bottom of the basket. It will probably still be fine for holding knitting projects and other light stuff - but don't tell Peg, okay?

We're talking more and more about how we should handle the garden next year. The food pantry is suggesting Romaine lettuce, and Tammy is sure we should have planted our corn further apart and hilled our potatoes. I know nothing about beets and am not in charge of the ones in the garden, but it seems like ours are awfully close together (and not doing anything). Same with the carrots. So, a bigger garden with more breathing room for the veggies, and maybe a designated harvest team. And maybe we'll get that irrigation system on line one of these days. But we've effectively proved the concept, and I don't think we'll have as big a battle in the future.

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