In the garden this week the summer solstice marks a turning point in the growing year. The majority of our garden jobs are now moving towards harvesting. Last week we harvested the first of our alliums, our onions, garlics and shallots. There will be more harvesting of these in the coming week. These alliums need to be cured once harvested, a process taking around three weeks where they are stored in a cool, well -ventilated place which allows their outer skins to dry fully. This helps to preserve them and after curing they should keep well until we wish to use them.
You may remember that back in October last year we planted the alliums, the yellow skinned onion ‘Radar’, red skinned onion ‘Electric’, white skinned onion ‘Snowball’, shallot ‘Jermor,’ and garlic ‘Provence White.’ These are all so called ‘autumn varieties’, and our aim by planting them was to get an early crop ready for harvesting in June enabling us to have sufficient growing time to sow another crop in late June, ready to harvest in the autumn. This is a good way to make the most of our growing spaces!
June is the last month for sowing peas and dwarf french beans allowing them just enough time to grow and be harvested before winter arrives. We will directly sow these seeds into the spaces in our vegetable beds. We will sow the dwarf French bean Amethyst, (a very attractive looking stringless purple bean), and the pea ‘Kelvedon Wonder’, which is particularly good for successional sowing and should be ready for harvesting 11-13 weeks after sowing so in early to later September.
Other ongoing harvesting is needed for our kales, black Tuscany, Pentland Brig and Cavalo Nero. If we harvest these a little and often, no more than four leaves per plant per fortnight, (the ultimate cut-and -come again vegetable), we will have a harvesting period in early summer and then again in the autumn. However it is important not to over harvest our kale if we want to have this prolonged harvesting season. So when harvesting we need to make sure to leave at least seven central leaves on the plant so it can continue to photosynthesise and produce new growth. It is also important never to pick the innermost portion with the smallest leaves, as that’s where new growth originates from. We are happy to teach volunteers and members of the public how kale is harvested, but in order for our kale plants not be be over harvested, harvesting should only be done when supervised by our community gardener.
Fruit harvesting has begun with the first collection of walnuts from the smallest of our walnut trees. This week we will be harvesting the walnuts from the other walnut tree. Look out for pickled walnuts!