Helping Hands

Heat and rain have produced a bounty in the garden. With a little direction, small helpers can pitch in harvesting peas, carrots and beans. By George Knowles

July 26, 2010 | | Blogs | Gardening at Larkspur Hollow | Leisure

The combination of heat and torrential rains have produced a bounty of favourite things. We are in the third week of July and harvesting snow peas and shelling peas for the wok.

This is perfect work for small helpers who can eat as they collect. Likewise with pulling young carrots and beets or harvesting masses of bush beans.

A little careful direction is needed for an enthusiastic four year old, who has a tendency to spot a great cluster of yellow beans (Valdor) and dash across the row to get them.

Harvesting the garden’s bounty is perfect work for small hands

New potatoes are emerging and, of the eleven different varieties we planted this year, the champion for early production is Yukon Gold – that proud 1981 offspring of Canadian researchers at the University of Guelph.

I’ve tried other early varieties such as Carleton, but these always seemed watery by comparison. We wrap Yukon Gold potatoes and red onion slices in foil to accompany almost anything grilled on the BBQ.

A year ago we had what amounted to a crop failure for cucumbers, squash, zucchini and melons. There was such an infestation of cucumber beetles, that the yellow flowers were chewed to ribbons and little fruit set. Floating row covers and sprinkles of diatomaceous earth on the bugs didn’t eliminate them. We replanted squash and cucumbers mid-summer, but the generally cool and grey weather in 2009 didn’t move the new plants to maturity.

Not so this year!

Is it the weather? Is it the use of interplanted marigolds and nasturtiums?

Whatever the case, I am harvesting cucumbers by the dozen. Zucchinis, both Jaguar (green) and Golden Dawn (yellow) are harvested daily. Yet, as careful as I am, a torpedo-sized behemoth is inevitably lurking under a leaf and close to the soil. Some wag once suggested that the small ones are to be given to friends and the big ones left on the stoop of a pesky neighbour.

The melon vines and squash are sending out tendrils in every direction – proving yet again that my wise advisor is right – I haven’t given them enough room. They will be climbing the garden fence soon.

Leafy greens such as spinach and arugula are flourishing and one star performer that is actually being harvested and enjoyed is Swiss chard.

Before you picture a limp and sodden mass of boiled greens, consider what can be done with a great recipe. We have one taken from “Dinner Tonight“, by Lucy Waverman (ISBN: 0-679-30957-8). It is prepared quite simply with olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and garlic.

It is easy to look forward to a totally vegetarian meal when the vegetables are fresh and a few savoury additions are included in the recipe.

About the Author More by George Knowles

George Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

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