Its harvest festival time and as we have covered on this blog before just as food security is becoming more important less and less churches have harvest festivals. My church has not had a harvest festival this year. This is strange since food and harvest is an integral part of the bible. For example I noticed this the other day in my daily reading from Jeremiah 31v5.
“Again you shall plant vineyards on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit.” ESV.
The reasons are most of us are urban unlike in biblical times and we have become divorced from nature. If a crop fails it means we pay more at the supermarket. This is of course at the root of both our lack of concern for the environment and lack of action on climate change. Growing your own I think will be vital in a post oil world. But in the meanwhile its healthier for you, fun, tastes better, is in many cases cheaper and reduces food miles.
As is traditional at this time of year I will write a brief report on my own harvest festival time, not to boost, but to encourage you to have a go…
In general most things have been less successful than last year, although 2013 had some notable failures. This year there have been fewer of these but generally yields have been lower. We had a cold spring and another very hot dry July as we did in 2013.
Salads have grown as well as last year, in addition having mysteriously failed to grow any cucumbers (which are very easy to grow inside) this year we had piles. Tomatoes were less successful than last year (see picture) but we still had a reasonable crop. This I grew mid sized ones which did well and cherry ones which almost failed to crop. Unlike last year (due to the heat) I have grown spinach (although there were complaints about the number of slugs in it!). Coriander has done well although not as well as last year. All the herbs have done well apart from Lovage which did not survive last winter.
Root vegetables were mixed. I grew two lots of Potatoes, the 2nd earlies did OK, the maincrop cropped well but have been ravaged by slugs (due to the mild autumn?). I had the usual battle with carrot fly with Carrots and Parsnips. Both survive if treated with a biological control but seem to go into stasis for weeks. Parsnips look OK but I have not tried them. The Carrots were attacked again in the autumn due to the mild weather. I’m going to try building a barrier next year.
Other vegetables have been more successful. Mangetout, Climbing French and Runner beans have done very well. I even managed a second modest crop of Mangetout this year which we are still eating. For the first time for a number of years I have grown a large number of courgettes and my leeks have been much better than last year (and taste great).
Fruit has generally not done as well as last year. Strawberries were a total right off. The main apple tree has not produced nearly as much fruit but its been bigger. I have harvested enough fallers for three gallons of cider which is fermenting as well as lots of stewed apple. The self fertile Plum has not done as well (like the Apple poor setting due to the cold spring I think), its fruit was also attacked by vast armies of wasps. Nevertheless I have kilos of fruit sitting in the freezer. The Gooseberries did fairly well the biological control having eliminated the gooseberry saw fly. Blackcurrants did well (still no virus) and Raspberries did surprisingly well despite virus. Last year I bought a Damson and more small apple trees, the Damson died and was replaced for free, all failed to produce any fruit, but are too small.
I still have hardy winter lettuce and and Japanese greens in the ground and lots of artichokes, leeks etc. to dig up. For me crop failures are not critical but remember for many people still mean life and death. Happy harvest festival time.