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Harvest Monday – June 13, 2011

June 13, 2011

This was a week for first harvests.

On Monday, the first and last dill – I had to eat it before the aphids got too bad.

Also, my strawberry patch got sprayed with herbicide – I understand that the railway embankments need to be kept clear of weeds, but couldn’t they have waited until the strawberry season is over? – so I had to visit a couple of other patches. They aren’t nearly as good, but between the teeny-tiny village train station, the small-town train station and the retaining wall outside the allotment gardens, I still go 270 g, which went into another yoghurt and milkshake.

I never really know what to do with dill – we never grew any even when we had a garden, never used it in cooking – or, at least, not that I could remember until last year, when I got some dill from my veggie farm. My farmers often give us some stuff we hadn’t meant to buy, ‘just to try out’. Dill was one of them. I nibbled at it on the way home and wondered what to do with it. But tasting it, smelling it, I found myself reminded of the place we lived in when I was little, and coming home, I asked my mother, ‘Didn’t you cook something with dill back when we lived in Sourcream Street?’

Turns out she did, and made millet patties with dill sauce again for the first time in about fifteen years.

So I called her up for the recipe, and they turned out great, considering it was one of those very vague recipes that used to drive me crazy when I was just learning to cook – ‘take x, add a bit of y and some z, and cook until it’s done’, without any exact amounts or times. Guess I’m getting the hang of this cooking thing at last!

Wednesday’s harvest was the most impressive so far:

I harvested the Romanesco broccoli – not one of the more successful balcony garden crops, only about 125 g after I’d cleaned it up. Some of the usual lettuce, chives, parsley and nasturtium – including one of the first flowers -, a daylily flower from the teeny-tiny village train station, a couple of horned pansies (I wonder if they’ll survive the summer?). I lost patience with my sad excuses for onions (it might be too wet for them) and decided to eat them already. (I only planted a couple of sets that escaped from the bags we were selling at work. The seeds I sowed were even less successful – too many aphids!) 10 g of radish seed pods – those rainboow radish seeds were too expensive to rip them out once they bolt! The most important harvests were the tiniest:

First two pods of ‘Blauwschokker’ peas (which I’m not overly impressed with – sure, they’re pretty, but it took them ages, and they’re head-high already with just the first few flowers on them.) and the first currant tomato! Yum!

First on my balcony, anyway – my mother beat me by a few days, since her plants get more sun than mine. Next time I get to the farm, I have to remember to ask if they’ve had ripe tomatoes yet. But for now it looks like my mother’s won the race – my boss’s wife isn’t even close yet, but then she’s not growing any ‘Golden Currant’s this year.

I decided to see if I could get a whole meal from locally grown food – turns out it works! Herbs, salad and veggies – romanesco, radish seed pods, onions and peas – from the balcony, a zucchini from the veggie stall by the strawberry field (the field’s about 2 km from the Nettle Nest, and I doubt the zucchini came from much further away) and early potatoes from the farm (about 3 km away). The only non-local things were salt, pepper, oil and vinegar for the salad dressing!

I probably never ate a meal as slowly as this, savouring each bite! Growing and cooking my own food makes eating it so much more interesting as well!

I don’t understand people who insist it’s ‘not a real meal’ unless there’s some meat – some of my classmates at vocational school were like that, on the rare occasions we had a vegetarian meal, there was a lot of mutinous muttering. The Carpenter Brother is probably the same, but he doesn’t talk much – not to his family, anyway.

In any case, I don’t understand it – there are only so many kinds of meat, and they don’t really taste that different – but so many more kinds of vegetables! Meat is quite boring in comparison! I’m not going to become a vegetarian – I’m much too lazy for that, always having to worry about what I may eat if I eat out – but I definitely don’t miss meat if I don’t have any for a few weeks.

On Thursday, I harvested the last of the arugula (10 g) – whatever I eat first, the aphids can’t eat, is my current motto, and if that means I have to wash a couple hundred of them off my food before I eat it, well, so be it. I’d rather have a couple of aphids I know about in my salad than any pesticides I don’t know about.

I also picked some chard and made pancakes with chard-and-feta filling – turned out really yummy!

Yes, my table is a little messy…

On Friday, I did some more climbing around on the embankment while waiting for my train:

I put a couple of them into my salad that night, but then didn’t feel like eating the rest… by the next day, of course, they had wilted… I cut up the parts that weren’t too mushy yet and ate them on bread rolls together with Saturday’s harvest:

These will probably be the last decently sized radishes for a while – I think it’s getting too hot for them.

I don’t usually buy bread rolls – I haven’t since my Dutch friends visited me in February – but I dreamed about them this week, so I had to have some!

Saturday’s harvest doesn’t really count since I had to pay for it – I went to the strawberry field – but at least it’s something I picked myself, and I did get a free harvest from the ‘weeds’ in the field:

2.5 kg of strawberries for making jam* and several handfuls of chamomille flowers – I’m getting a pretty big selection of herbal teas this year!


As always, thanks to Daphne for allowing us to share our harvests at her blog!


* Strawberry is the only kind of jam I can eat. Other kinds of jam have become so linked to my time at university in Vienna that trying to eat them or even thinking about eating them brings back those choking feelings of unhappiness and homesickness. It wasn’t until now that I realized why strawberry jam is still associated with positive feelings – the school trip the the Carpenter Brother, cream tea by the sea with the teachers, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam… oh man, now I want to travel!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 02:58

    You ate those lilies?? I’m not sure that I even knew that they were edible. You have a great variety of colorful harvest here. Reading about your dill reminded me that I, too, have some dill growing in the garden and I don’t have any immediate plans for them. But some sort of dill sauce sounds lovely!

    • June 14, 2011 07:17

      Yup, daylilies (Hemerocallis, not the Lilium genus) are edible. I think I’ve had enough for this year, though – I don’t want to eat another one!

  2. June 14, 2011 04:55

    … I just bought my tomatoes for planting… it’s been so cold here that we won’t be seeing fruit until August I’m sure.

    • June 14, 2011 07:18

      If it’s any consolation, this is really unusually early for us, as well.

  3. June 14, 2011 13:58

    Ah the first tomato. I always relish the first one. The actual flavor is never as good as the following ones, but still it is the first. And too bad they sprayed the embankment before the harvest was done as those little strawberries are so good.

  4. June 14, 2011 19:21

    True about the flavour of the first tomato – but they’re still sooo much better than from the store!
    If I could get Golden Currant at the store, that is.

  5. June 14, 2011 19:49

    I almost can’t believe how much you harvest from a small balcony! Great! I harvest not even half as much. Yeah, I have to join harvest monday once again, so you can see it yourself… the broccoli looks bizarre, but delicious. I think in a way you are right about the meat. Turkey tastes really bland to me, but I often make it just because it’s easy. Heat a pan, put it in, that’s it. I love my veggies, but some of them are not easy or fast to prepare (artichoke, asparagus, even broccoli and lettuce can be quite a chore to clean)… I’m still trying to figure out a way of cooking that works for me…
    Last but not least, congrats on the tomato! Mine are only just starting to flower.

    • June 14, 2011 20:03

      I usually go for turkey/chicken as well. If I buy meat at all… right now I’ve got a lot of sausages in the freezer, and I don’t think I’ll buy any more meat until I’ve used up these and the fish.
      I’ve found that I mind taking the time for preparing/cooking my own food a lot less than I expected when I moved out of my mother’s place. And I mind it even less when it’s my own homegrown food – I get such a feeling of satisfaction out of harvesting and using it – didn’t realize how much I’d missed that feeling until the first harvest!

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