The Autumn Harvest

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

It’s Autumn, and probably the last opportunity to soak up a lovely warm-ish day in South Africa before the winter chill sets in. Why not arrange some outdoor time on your patio with friends and family and surprise them by preparing some dishes, almost exclusively from your garden? Get your preserve recipes ready and let’s fill some bags with produce to share with those in need. 

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Pick me

A tasty host of herbs to be picked now include thyme, parsley, marjoram, and mint. Veggies like squash, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, chillies and, beetroot are also ready for the lunch buffet. Juicy fruit such as melon and tomato will be coming to an end now as well. 

fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Harvesting tips

  • Prolong your lettuce harvest by only picking the larger, outer leaves each time, allowing the inner leaves to keep growing.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Tomatoes are ready to be picked when they’re uniformly red – just before they soften. Spray preventatively against various fungal diseases.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Lemons, depending on variety and care should be available to harvest pretty much all year round. Keep your tree well-watered, prune when necessary and protect it from pests to keep your bounty flowing.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
  • Peppers are a Catch-22 harvest. If you want volume you should pick them frequently and before they mature since they’ll keep trying to produce viable seed but if it is flavour you’re after you need to let them reach maturity before harvesting knowing you’ll have less but tastier fruit.
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery
fresh produce, harvest, autumn harvest, greens, life is a garden, farming, fruits, vegetables, harvest, autumn, march, food, share, backyard farm, greenery

Preserve your bounty

Fresh produce has a limited shelf life but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your harvest for longer. Fill jars with homemade pasta sauces, relishes, and pickles that can be enjoyed for months after you’ve harvested your vegetables. There are some stunning preserve recopies out there, not to mention fire ciders and other health conics you can create.

5 Top crops that keep giving Plant them once but harvest many times

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

We’re not ready to let go of the festive vibes and generous spirit of the holidays just yet! Life is a Garden would like to extend these good feels with the below list of summer crops that keep on, keep on giving. Plant them once but harvest many times – that’s the way to eat your heart out healthily this new year.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Your 5 top crops that keep giving and how to harvest them correctly 

  1. Spinach: Harvest only 1/3 of the plant at a time by cutting your chosen leaves at their base, above the crown (where all stems meet). You don’t have to work your way from outside in, so long as you harvest a mix of new and mature leaves. 
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

2. Fancy lettuce: Apply the same technique as with spinach and remember to mulch around the plants very well. Adequate water and moisture will discourage bolting, which is when the plants go to seed – so perhaps you’d even like to experiment.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

Top tip: When harvesting leaves, pick them early morning (for crispness) or late afternoon. Avoid the hottest parts of the day to not stress plants unnecessarily. 

3. Tomatoes: If it looks ripe and smells good, pick that bad boy! For a repeated lush harvest, prune back low-lying branches that touch the ground and pinch out smaller suckers that appear below the first cluster of flowers. Also remove any yellow leaves.

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

4. Green peppers: Here’s a bit of a Catch-22. On the one hand, the more you pick, the more produce you’ll get. However, the longer you leave the peppers on the plant, the sweeter they will be and the higher the Vitamin C content – choice is yours!

Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden
Harvest, january, plants, fruit, backyard, gardening, produce producing trees, greens, vegetables, greenery, healthy, eat your heart out, fruit, gardening, life is a garden

5. Strawberries: No catch of picking in plenty here! The secret lies in an organic fertiliser that will increase flowering, resulting in more fruit, faster.

Delicious Tomato and Basil Salad

September is the month to shed the cold frosts of winter and welcome spring. Did you know September is sometimes referred to as tomato month! This is because tomatoes are mostly harvested around this time.

There is something very satisfying about being able to go into your garden and pick something homegrown to use as ingredients in your cooking. The tomato is an almost indispensable part of meal preparation in many South African homes, and it even has its own week…YUP, the 24th to the 30th of September is tomato week.

Low in calories and rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and iron, it deserves to be celebrated.

Don’t worry if you have limited space, as many types of tomato will grow happily in window boxes and containers. Soil preparation is the key – include generous amounts of compost and, because tomatoes flourish in conditions with low nitrogen, high phosphorous and moderate potassium, incorporate a complete fertiliser.  It takes about six to eight weeks for a fertilised flower to develop into mature fruit. Depending on the type, the ripe tomato could be yellow, orange or any one of many shades of red. The flavour and nutrient content of tomatoes are best if they are allowed to ripen on the plant.

Now is the perfect time to get out your recipe book and try out those summer-inspired tomato recipes. Nothing welcomes spring like a basil tomato salad, and we have the perfect recipe for you! Bone petit! 

What you will need
  •   Cocktail tomatoes 
  •   Basil leaves 
  •   Mozzarella
  •   Black pepper 
  •   Salt 
  •   1 tablespoon of olive oil
  •   1 and a half teaspoon of Balsamic Vinegar
Step 1 

Cut your freshly picked tomatoes into small cube dices. Try to ensure that all tomato pieces are relatively the same size, this makes it easy to get all the salad content in one bite.