It's funny in life that so often you don't know that something was the last until it is over. The last time your child wears something before they grow out of it, the last time you take a photo of your baby with all her baby teeth, the last time you hug someone you love before they leave, the last time you hang your washing on the line outside before the days become too cold…
Mostly food gardening is a bit like that for me. We spend much of summer and autumn enjoying bountiful basil. Plucking those leaves and eating them on and in almost every dish we create. And then one morning the frost hits it and it's over. Burnt. And that's it for another year. It's the same with so many crops, from plentiful to finished over night.
One season passes, another begins.
This week we pulled the very last of the tomato vines out of the garden and let the chickens into the poly tunnels to clean up the scraps. We collected every last red tomato and brought them inside, we picked crates of green fruit for the chooks, we made piles of green leaves and vines for the compost and we stashed the stakes for the next year.
Then we forked each bed to aerate them, we sprinkled rock minerals, we filled them up with compost and then we planted garlic and kale and other wintry, new season's veg.
For some reason this week I got to choose for the tomato season to be over. It had slowed right down but I could have probably gotten another bowl or two from the poly tunnels over the next week or so. But it feels like the time is right. The chicks needed the space to explore, the vines are getting all mushy and disgusting from rotting fruit, we need the space for the new season and the days are getting shorter and I'm running out of time to pick.
So this season, perhaps for the first time ever, I do know that I have just picked my last crate of tomatoes. I think I'll oven dry a couple of trays, eat as many as we can in sandwiches and salads and do one more batch in Fowlers jars. It's a strange feeling and I almost feel like I'm cheating mother nature, but I can tell you that late season's tomatoes never tasted so good. I am enjoying every single one like it's my last - because it is almost my last.
Happy season of green, southern peeps, and for those of you up north, enjoy your bounty.
Big love x