Tuesday, 7 June 2011

June harvest: week one

Two exciting things make this first June harvest particularly special. My first-ever home-grown cherry ripened a few days ago. I have two trees, which I planted two years ago. One I've trained as a fan against the top fence (a south-facing fence that runs along the terrace, higher than the house), and the other is planted on the opposite side of the terrace, and left to its own devices. I expected no fruit the first year (two or three flowers on one of the trees fell off), but last year there was some blossom, but no fruit either. The freestanding tree got infested both years by blackfly, making its new growth twisted and discoloured. This year, the fan-trained tree (which is much larger, whether due to the variety, the soil, position, or having its growth forced into a few strong branches) got the blackfly, but at least has set a couple of dozen fruits, but it was the other one that produced the first ripe fruit (of only three full-sized cherries on the whole tree).

Totals for week 1st-7th June:
1st: 8g chard (the last of last summer's rainbow chard - I need to re-sow), 40g spinach, 73g mint
2nd: 23g strawberries, 3g cherry
3rd: 62g strawberries, 33g spinach
5th: 30g peas + pea pods (I had to harvest some early, because one plant was looking sickly, so I stripped what was there, and cooked the whole lot as there wasn't much - the pods were tough), 53g broad bean tops (more on this below), 158g strawberries, and a negligible weight of (but big taste hit from) tarragon and parsley
6th: 128g strawberries
7th: 37g strawberries, 2g broad beans (I tried a large pod)
Total for week: 650g (more than the whole year to date!)
Year to date total: 1.16kg

Which means I beat my target a week early! (That's the second special thing, in case you were wondering). I'd hoped to harvest 500g in the first two weeks of June. Now, I don't want to get ahead of myself, so I'll revise it to 800g - I can't guarantee the strawberries will continue producing consistently (there's a mass of green fruit, but I suspect the weather has an effect on when they ripen). Second, I've harvested my first kilogramme of produce! Compared to Annie's Granny, it's small beer indeed, but it's a nice figure, and the heavy stuff comes later in the season (pumpkins, squash, tomatoes).

As you can see from the figures above, the vast majority of the weight is soft fruit, but I suppose it's slightly unfair since leaves don't weigh much (I've had lots of spinach, but even a large handful amounts to a few tens of grammes). If I was feeling uncharitable, I could also mention how most of it comes from perennials, rather than stuff I sowed/planted in the past few months. But produce is produce! And I think it's good to have a balance between crops that largely look after themselves with minimal intervention (mint is a prime example), and those that need more care, last a much shorter time, but allow for more experimentation year on year.

Now, a note on peas and beans, pre-empting the next couple of harvest totals. I planted two beds of broad beans in the front garden. One has been rather swamped by surrounding plants (mostly weeds), so I expect little from it; the other has grown luxuriantly - they are chest-high, with not a blackfly amongst them. But, there's part of the problem. I got it into my head that pinching out the tops was only necessary if they became infested, so I left them. They flowered their heads off, but the pods are small and few. The rule is, pinch out to allow the energy to go into the fruit - just like tomatoes. Second, the winds here in May have blasted the plants, stripping a lot of flowers. So, I don't expect much from them. In the back garden, I have two large planters, one with more broad beans, the other with peas. Incidentally, the two varieties of broad beans I planted were 'Karmazyn', a pink-fruited kind, and 'Red Epicure', with even darker pink/red beans (I have a batch of young crimson-flowered plants ready to go somewhere); the peas are 'Serpette Guillotteau'. Well, both have been attacked by snails relentlessly - even now they are large, the lower leaves are stripped, and even the pods have been nibbled.

So I don't expect much from my legumes this season. I've never done terribly well with peas, so maybe I should give up on them. I had high hopes for a glut of beans, but it seems it's not to be. At least the French and runner beans are looking healthy - for now!

No comments: