Category Archives: harvest

#624: Summer sweetness

 A long, long time ago, last June,
I spent hours pinching off peaches.
Each branch of our peach trees had 20 or so tiny peaches.
Each branch can fully grow only one, maybe 2.
So off came the extras. 
And the effort paid off.

Even in the high branches.
 A pinching off of excess ‘stuff’ and activities
in the rest of my life may well prove equally fruitful.

Summer sweetness.

More sweetness: from our hive.
The bees have filled the frames.

All that excess comb on top!
Sweetness guarded by stings, a bee suit helps.
One more harvest: wineberries.
These are an invasive raspberry relative from Asia.
We love them.
As does one cheeky catbird who swoops in even 
when we’re picking.

The beginning of winter stores.
Saving summer sweet to get through bitter winter.
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#418: Patriotic Potatoes

Last May 20th, 
I planted these potatoes in trenches–

in the Three Sisters garden 
next to the chicken yard.
The trenches were filled bit by bit every two weeks.
Until  July 20th when they were ready to harvest.
A treasure hunt for a six year old.
Kennebecs, Red Pontiacs, All Blues.
6-8 potatoes per plant.
The chickens watch,
hoping we’ll toss them some grubs.
Ready to make some All-American
red, white and blue potato salad.

With Russian fingerling potatoes too.
America is, after all, a melting pot.

#414: Threshing Grain

Usually we turn the winter rye
into the garden as a green fertilizer.
This year we let a patch grow to harvest.
Farmer Tobias

The harvest, one generous bushel.
As the ‘farmer’ didn’t line up the heads,
I cut them off to thresh them,
in my handy-dandy new invention:
The oscillating floor fan.

 Fill with rye heads.
Put guard back on and cover.
See? The grain falls out the bottom.
Only it doesn’t work.
The blade won’t spin with all that stuff in there.
Plan B:

Cut a hole in the screen with wire cutters.

 Feed the heads into the blades.

Head full of seed.

Four seconds later–no seed.

Success!
Little Red Hen,
I’ll help thresh the wheat.

#396: Nantucket Mint

Mint loves Nantucket.
It grows wild all over the place.
 As all mints are invasive, they have their own mini-garden.
Which, in a mere month, is already trying to escape.
We also planted spearmint near our 
outside faucets, to use the drips efficiently.
I harvested some and got:
A whole countertop full!
Five bunches were hung to dry,
out of the sun, for tea.
 Becky blended two cups in the Vitamix,
strained it out,
added half a cup of organic sugar and a spritz of lemon,
then half froze it.
Mint sorbet, mmmm.

#354: Amaranth harvest

Does anyone out there know how to process amaranth?
We cut, dried and pulled it off the stems:
Now what?
Tobias tried running it through a screen:
The little black dots are the seed,
a lot of them are still stuck in the husks.
He then tried floating the husks
 and letting the seed sink.
Leaving us with half seed, half detritus.
The Aztecs lived on this stuff,
there must be an easier way.
Any ideas?

#322: Hubbard Squash

Volunteers.
That’s what they called the squash vines
which grew out of the compost pile at Hummock Pond Farm.
Volunteers are such a fun part of gardening.
All the work we do to grow what we planted
and God says, ‘How about some of these?’
The vines turned out to be Blue Hubbard squash.
This variety came north on a sailing ship to Marblehead
in the late 1700’s.
They grow bigger than your head!
Seeds are baked and lightly salted.
(saving a few to plant in the spring…)
The flesh makes yummy pies and soups and sidedishes.
I bake it then freeze the extra in 2 cup portions.
An unexpected gift for the winter.

#302: DIY Mittens and Hats

One of the best Take it or Leave it finds
is a shrunken sweater.
They make excellent hats and mittens.
The hat, made by his sister, is from the body of the sweater.
It has two pockets and folds over for extra warmth.
Or unfolds for a Rasta look,
 which fits under your bike helmet.
I don’t know what he keeps in the pockets.
The gloves are sleeves, reversed, folded over,
 given a few stitches to make a thumb slot.

They can be rolled down for warmth or slid up
for free hands.
Or knelt on when the ground is cold.
Or when you can’t help but sink to your knees 
in thankfulness and praise to God 
for His bounty:
from the dump as well as from the earth.

#297: Jetties Beach Unpeopled

Here’s the beach in December:
The stones are still warm but no children perch there,
awaiting rides.

The gulls remain. What do they eat when there
are no sandwiches to steal?
Scallops. We harvest the muscle but the gulls
get the rest.

Nantucket takes care of her own.
I wish I could convey the sounds and powerful smell
of this tremendous pile.
Not to worry, it will all be gone by summer.
And the gulls will return to their thieving ways.

#296: Nature Nativity

Some families at Summer Street Church
make Nativity scenes to help the kids focus
 on Jesus at Christmas.

Joseph’s beard and robes courtesy of our chickens.
Baby Jesus’ halo is a jingle shell.
 A curious acorn headed donkey with bayberry
eyes and ears looks on.

Shepherd’s heads are cutaway hazelnuts.
Sheep’s fur courtesy of a milkweed pod.
Pinecone wisemen.
 Hot glue holds their acorn heads on.
Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy!
In a horse-chestnut shell hat worthy of Eliza Doolittle.
Eucalyptus wings freshen the air.
‘And is it true? And is it true,
this most tremendous tale of all,
seen in a stained glass window’s hue,
a Baby in an ox’s stall?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me?’
Sir John Betjeman

#256: Gobs of Grapes

Sorry, couldn’t resist the alliteration.
Nantucket is having a most excellent grape season.
The grapes in the front are peeled.
We’ve been picking for over a month.
Mostly fox grapes, which we make into three things:
Cook, then drip through cheesecloth for (1)juice,
this gets frozen by the pint.
Which leaves seeds and pulp.
Pulp is pressed through, leaving seeds behind.
Skins, previously removed (what a fun job)
are re-added to pulp to make (2)jam.
Leaving seeds alone, aka (3)chicken food.
When I was out picking grapes,
 a young man stopped and asked why I bothered.
Why didn’t I just buy Welch’s at the store?
Do you have an answer for that?
This is mine:
Food isn’t just for physical nourishment.
The thrill of finding,
the joy of abundant gathering,
the luscious smell of boiling down,
the fellowship of canning,
the beauty of jars lined up:
Each step is soul satisfying, 
a part of the stewardship God intended 
for His people before the Fall.