Growing your own fruit, herbs and vegetables ensures that they’ll be at their very best when it comes to eating them moments after they have been picked or dug up. Flavour, texture and nutritional value are all at their peak when produce is fresh-picked or harvested. Generally it works out that you can leave your food plants growing until you need to take produce from them – this guarantees that all-important freshness. There are many vegetables – like carrots, beetroot, leeks and parsnips that store well in the ground. Others such as pumpkins and potatoes can be stored for months indoors with the right handling. Apples, garlic and onions too have a good ‘shelf life’. Some harvests are a more of a glut and a time for feasting – grapes, avocados, feijoas and asparagus are all delicious fresh. However, with the right recipes even these fresh treats can be transformed into a resourceful long- term food store by freezing, preserving and pickling. The most important thing of all is knowing when plants and produce are ready and how best to harvest them.
equipment bare hands
You can harvest Mizuna in one of four different ways – plants should be spaced according to how you think you’ll want to harvest them. Firstly there’s ‘cut and come again’ – this means you cut all foliage down to an inch or so from the ground and then wait whilst the plant regenerates in the coming weeks before repeating. Plants need to be thinned to a spacing of about a finger’s length apart. Alternatively, young plants can be harvested when small to be added whole to recipes. Plants should be spaced about a finger’s length apart in all directions. For an ongoing harvest you can grab a few outer leaves from plants now and then - leaving the centre un-touched. For this you’ll need to grow plants about two full finger-lengths apart from each other. Mizuna can be harvested as a larger plant when fully in its prime. Give seedlings a spacing of around a hands’ length from each other. Simply uproot, cut roots away and give foliage a rinse under tap water.more
equipment Knife for cutting at base
Fennel bulbs can be harvested once they have swollen and are anything from the size of your average home-made muffin to a large, juicy mango. Generally spring-sown fennel produces the fattest bulbs and autumn sown fennel produces a slightly leaner crop. Simply cut across the base of your bulb and leave the ‘stool’ or bottom part in the ground to re-grow more bulbs from side-shoots. We always let one or two of our plants elongate their stems to form flowers and then set seed which we dry for cooking and baking – so you may have some out in your garden now with dry seed ready for collection. The seeds are quite a tasty chew on their own - rather sweet and aniseedy – kids love them. Most recipes will ask you to trim the dark green stems back to the bulb itself as they tend to be tough and stringy. The feathers – soft leafy tops to stems can be eaten chopped into salads or as a garnish.more
equipment Garden fork
Celeriac can be harvested from winter into spring. It is best to leave the crowns in the ground until you want to use them. Lift the swollen crowns with a fork when they are at least as wide as your palm or larger. Although a light frost will improve flavour, if severe winter weather is forecast or if you have heavy soil and there is a chance your crop may become water-logged you might want to lift them all at once. Carefully lift the crowns with a fork and lay them in a shallow, well-drained trench elsewhere in the garden before covering the crowns with a thin layer of soil – they last longer like this than they will in the fridge. Alternatively you can lift them and remove the leaves before packing in box filled with sand. Store in a shed or garage and they should last for several months.more
I think we have been told maybe too often to eat lighter and its lovely to have something like bread and butter pudding that is really indulgent. The apple in this recipe maybe helps to make it more virtuous… I like it because if you get it right you have the peak of the risen bread and the apple standing up it looks quite glamorous – having said that its still good when its flat!
‘Rumble Thumps’ is comfort food for me, it reminds me of Sunday nights when my whole family was together sitting around the fire and mum would make this sort of simple, heartening food. I have always said that when your mother makes you ‘Rumble thump’ you know she loves you…