Warning: This post is about simple garden harvest routines, no secrets about how to grow 500-pound pumpkins or 7,000 cherry tomatoes on one vine, no inside information on turning a roughly 2% of an acre garden plot into a $100,000-a-year business. We start with carrots.
Last weekend I harvested carrots from the garden, a little over 20 pounds of them, about 8 pounds of Nantes and 12 pounds of Danvers, if you’re obsessed with carrots. If you’re not so obsessed you might find a lot of this post fairly boring.
I used to weigh the produce as I harvested it but this year the only thing I weighed was the carrots. Currently I look at the produce in terms of Is there enough to last through the winter?
First you dig the carrots. Freshly-dug carrots have a wonderfully earthy aroma. Next, you snap off the green tops, leaving a half inch or so, then you lay them in 4-gallon buckets in damp sand, a layer of sand, a layer of carrots, and so on to the top of the bucket. The carrots don’t touch each other. Carrots are like that.
They’ll spend the rest of their existence in the cool darkness of the root cellar until we eat them.
I don’t wash the carrots before putting them into the sand but I do rub most of the dirt off with my bare hands. My hands get very dirty, like a schoolboy’s who has been into God-Knows-What, and the carrots get fairly clean, like school children with a little dirt around their knuckles. I don’t know why I do it this way but it seems right to me. Likewise with potatoes.
The potatoes went into the root cellar weeks ago. Butternut and Hubbard and volunteer squash rested in the garden sunshine for several weeks while their vines died off. I’m going to be eating a lot of squash this winter since we must have about 30 of them. Or donating some to a food pantry.
The squash are stored on a shelf at the foot of the basement stairs which holds at about 50-55°F for most of the winter. The onions are there, too. The long reds are sprouting already, making green onions for a salad, an omelet, or a stir-fry. The parma yellows holding fast to their onion-ness, no sprouts, they’re good keepers.
I expect to shell the dried Arikara and Hidatsa beans this week. This is the first season we’ve grown shell beans and this winter I’m looking forward to baking them. We’ve grown cabbage in past seasons but this is the first year we’ll be making and canning sauerkraut. There’s more, leeks, and calendula seeds, and red peppers, red peppers, red peppers, tomatoes previously canned, but enough might be too much already.
I believe there’s some ancient intuitive sense about the earth in all of us. Working in the garden delivers that wisdom to our individual and collective consciousness, it seems. Through some combination of intuition and thinking our human relationship with the earth’s cycle is perpetuated. Having a grubby hand in that cycle gives me deep and wide satisfaction.
If there’s anything to learn here, any secret at all to discover, it’s this: Do what you love to do, as much and as often as you can.