Thursday, May 16, 2013

seasonal - sustainable - wonderful

At the start of the cycle, last spring, we planted tomato seeds in trays in the hot house. We nurtured the seeds and watched them grow. When they were large enough to cope, we moved them outside or into the poly tunnels to give them space. We tried to provide ideal growing conditions by planting according to the moon's phases, weeding out some of the competition, feeding and irrigating and staking. And then over the last few months we enjoyed the harvest.

We had a wonderful, bountiful tomato season this year.

We picked colanders and baskets and buckets and crates full.

We ate them straight off the bush and in salads and sandwiches and cooked them in absolutely everything. And we preserved enough sauce and semi drieds to hopefully last us through out the year.


And then along came the first frost of the season. Just like that the outside tomato season was over. The frost burnt the foliage and damaged the remaining, as yet unripe fruit.

Following the first frost the chooks went in to clean up. They gobbled up the fleshy fruit, they ate the bugs and scratched up the dirt. And they pooed. Our chooks are really the hardest workers on our farm.

In the next few days, after they are done, my farmer boy will plow the tomato scraps and the chook poo into the soil adding much needed organic matter and fertiliser to the land that has grown our beautiful and delicious fruit.

After the plowing up we'll probably plant a winter pea crop or a broad bean crop to add nitrogen. We have to do everything we can to look after the health and balance of our hardworking soil. Everything that comes out with the growing, needs to go back in and more.


The tomato journey comes to an end.

And then next spring we'll start all over again.

As much as I dislike the cold and wet and grey, I love the seasons. I love that everything has it's time.

My farmer boy asked me the other day if I could commit to seasonal eating completely this year and cut out fresh tomatoes until they grow here again next summer. That is a big one for this thinly sliced tomato with salt on crackers loving girl. It even makes me panic a bit. But I think I'm going to try. It makes sense I think.

I'll be enjoying every single precious tomato I pick in the poly tunnels for the next week or so, that's for sure.

Are you a seasonal eater?
Could you do without?
Thinking about how far away the tomatoes are grown and how they travel to get to me over the depths of winter certainly helps.

Happy week my friends.
Keep cozy.

xx

29 comments:

  1. I contemplate eating seasonally. I look at fruit in the supermarket that has come to NZ from Australia or USA and think of the food miles they have traveled and what that does to the environment. But then I think it is more of a waste of fruit and damage to the environment if people don't buy it and it ends up in landfill. So yes I do buy out of season sometimes, to treat our tastebuds, to stop things going to waste and to support growers. Winter is a hard time of year for fruit, so out of season occasionally is OK I feel.

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  2. Hola! A mi tambien me gusta comprar los productos de la temporada y si puede ser de los agricultores locales. Aquí estamos en la primavera , me encanta vivir en un lugar que se aprecía el paso de las estaciones, Me gustan todas aunque la primavera es mi preferida. Hace una semana plante mis tomateras en un mini huerto que tengo...Disfruto mucho cultivando mis plantas... Yo tengo 2 gallinas y despues de pasar el otoño he invierno en total libertad por todo el jardín, las he encerrado esta primavera en el corral son incompatibles esta epoca con el huerto...Me gusta muchisimo tu blog, tienes unas fotografias preciosas y la vida que llevais es mi ideal...Un cariñoso saludo desde España.

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  3. Lovely tomatoes ( I don't eat them myself) but even lovelier chooks! Thanks for photos of your feathered family for this chicken addict! X

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  4. Hi Kate. What a beautiful tomato journey you have shared with us! Your chooks look happy I bet you have a bumper pea or bean crop with all of that goodness in the soil. We try to eat seasonally when we can. Zucchini is one thing I sometimes buy out of season.

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    1. Ha! I don't think I've ever bought a zucchini in my whole life. xx

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    2. Is that because you don't like them Kate, or because they grow so well in your garden? We've been buying the prettiest little squash at our farmers market these past few weeks, and they are giving me a greater appreciation of zucchini (which we never ate as kids as my dad doesn't really care for them). They are yummy fried in butter and sea salt.....

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  5. Lovely photos. Yes seasonal eater. Tomato season is one of my favourites. I now have a garden in pots :( So I am learning to cultivate an urban garden and enjoy it.

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  6. I really liked reading Barbara Kingsolver's 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Our year of Seasonal Eating' - She and her family committed to the project and grew/raised/bought only seasonal food. She also had a bumper tomato crop and shelves of sauce and semi-drieds to last until the sun returned. Although it got a little preachy, preachy at times - it's also a beautiful love story about their land and a story about family (her kids and husband also contributed chapters to the book).

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    1. I love that book too. It sits on my bedside table and I think about it and refer to it often. A beautful story.

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  7. Oh those goodly chooks!
    Good luck with the seasonal fruit pledge!
    Lovely post, I can feel the damp cold air in those photos!

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  8. we try to eat seasonally more and more each year, and are slowly headed in that direction. the key for me has been to expand my recipe repertoire towards that end, from a starting point where almost everything had courgettes or basil in it all year around! it's made for much more exciting eating, and nutritionally we certainly have a much wider range of food than we ever did rather than less. i loved seeing the photos of your dead tomato vines and the chooks as we are at that same point on a smaller scale here now, with our 6 tomato plants and two chooks!
    good luck to you x

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    1. I love this. Your 6 tomato plants and 2 chooks. Yah to that. (we have none and none, but hoping that Spring will bring a change to that).

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  9. I love tomatoes and have grown a variety of heritage breeds from seed for years. My hands have been reacting to touching the plants - rash and itching. Finally, after about 3 years, I went to an allergy specialist last week and HOLY COW! Tomatoes, capsicum and olives/olive oil are potentially anaphalatic for me if I'm sick (like now) or stressed. I walked out with an EpiPen, just in case... [sigh].

    So, this winter (I'm lucky enough to be able to plant them all year round) I'll be wearing gloves and letting my family enjoy my tomatoes [sigh].

    KT

    PS I love tomatoes [sigh]

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  10. I am not particularly good at knowing what is in and out for the seasons, but I certainly know with my fruits, summer fruits are just for summer. I bought a bag of tomatoes from our local farmers market this weekend and within 2 days they were rotten. $5 in the bin. That is generally when I know that I need to wait til next season. Sadly I also did the same with some avocados. I love them, but it is now time to wait again.

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  11. I eat tomatoes all year round, the canned ones are one of our staples like many, and we buy fresh each week too. So no, in all honesty I don't think I could commit to not eating a fresh one till next summer either. (But what am I talking about, we've only just had our Spring, such as it was in England!)

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  12. In my country is spring right now,I have mi tomato plants growing happy with the warm sun. I eat tomatoes always,but I know well..the best tomatoes bring in your own house and the taste is better.

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  13. your photos inspire me to turn my lens on the not so beautiful parts of my life. I think I would be surprised by the results.

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  14. Oh I wish I could eat more seasonally. We do try our best. But currently we don't have our own garden happening, which meant no Summer harvests to bottle up. We do try to buy local (and absolutely only ever Australian!!) produce from our fruit shop or farmers market, which means seasonal eating.
    But golly it is harder isn't it. Though really - in this climate it's not as hard as some places.

    Do you read the longest acres blog? (http://longestacres.blogspot.com.au/). I was so inspired when I read that they stop drinking milk and eating butter (or any milk products) when their cow stops giving for the Winter season. That is pretty amazing to me. To say -no milk today. Maybe one day we'll live closer to that, for now not quite.
    Perhaps you'll discover you love dried tomato with pesto on your toast just as much as fresh Summer tomato. Can't wait to hear your first taste of the first tomato!

    I'm dreaming of a visit to your beautiful farm. But will wait for warmer weather - I'm not at all tough enough to cope with your Winter!

    Keep warm and toasty, E xxx

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  15. Oh this is truely wonderful Kate! I love watching this space and what you do....so inspiring and I hope I can take some ideas and apply them to our land when we move. I can't wait to eat more seasonally and enjoy the ebbs and flows of each season and it provides. Wishing you a happy Friday and wonderful weekend xx

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  16. Your chickens are beautiful! We eat seasonally from our local farmers market and because we are in California, USA, it's sunny most of the year.
    Jana @ 333 Days of Hand Lettering

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  17. My tomatoes have gone gone gone too...very sad.

    I am no way a seasonal eater & it's really only since planting my balcony garden that I'm AWARE, really 100% AWARE, of the fact that food is seasonal. I think being a less than average cook with a mini-repertoire of recipes means I need everything available all the time otherwise I'll have a kitchen meltdown...I'm sad, I know.

    Your photos are lovely...

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  18. Hi!! I certainly try to eat seasonally. Not only is it cheaper but the taste is better too. Plus I couldn't justify eating something that has travelled half way around the world when I haven't travelled that far in my life!! I read Barbara Kingsolver's book and keep it on my dressing table as inspiration. I'd like to try living wholly locally and seasonally at least for one year in my life. Love your blog and good luck with the book. x

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  19. We try, and I think it really helps get the kids into eating fruit and veg if it's seasonal, as it tastes so GOOD! (Though I confess to buying the odd fruit out of season, if it means the kids will eat some fruit!!!)

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  20. We try, and I think it really helps get the kids into eating fruit and veg if it's seasonal, as it tastes so GOOD! (Though I confess to buying the odd fruit out of season, if it means the kids will eat some fruit!!!)

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  21. Love the photos of the chickens coming in to clean up. regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  22. I am trying to eat more seasonally.
    I rarely buy produce not grown in NZ or Australia at a push.. apart from Bananas... we love our bananas.

    I am loving these chicken pics. I am planning on getting some chickens this year. *excited* lifelong dream going to come true.

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  23. We have a strawberry patch in our yard, not huge but very productive. It's still putting out late strawberries now. The other day Leila asked me if she could have strawberries in her lunchbox, to which I replied that it's no longer the season for strawberries so we'd have to wait until Ella's birthday (October) to which she replied "but Maisy and Lucy had strawberries in their lunchbox", I didn't have much of a response for that. They were in the supermarket today, $7.99 a punnet. Seriously? I would want perfectly formed fruit, at the height of the sweet perfect for that amount, not late season ones..... I love my tomatoes too and basil, those are summer things for me. I don't generally buy out of season, only because they just look so unappealing. I am revved up by the time stone fruit season comes around again though - I could completely relate to that ad years ago with the Wendy Matthews song (the day you went away) over the top, with the guy lamenting the last peach of the season ...

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  24. Speaking of that song - here's a link - such a step back in time for me - very vivid memories and I remember all the words! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zfqusp7s5o0

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  25. I don't think we're particularly seasonal eaters at all, although after this post (and just stuff I've become interested in in general lately) I think I'm going to be more mindful of it. Certainly it's so easy to just grab whatever is available at the store without a thought for how long it might have been stored. We eat a LOT of "fresh" fruit and veg, but I've never truly considered just how in season (or not) it is. LOVE those photos, so rich and gorgeous - you make dying tomato plants look incredible.

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Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the way....so I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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