Somehow we never have strawberry gluts. But beans, zucchinis, tomatoes and cucumbers can all prove a challenge at times. If you have enough plants to give you a good portion at the start and end of the season, you’ll have more than you can cope with during the height of the summer. The main thing with fruiting plants is to keep picking regularly – ideally daily. Otherwise the plant will stop producing new flowers and fruits and concentrate its energies into the ones on the plant.
Here are some tips to avoid the panic of a glut – apart from just planting fewer bean, zucchini, tomato and cucumber plants. Because if we were that clever, we wouldn’t be in this situation would we? It’s easy to forget that a glut is a sign of our success in the garden, although it doesn’t always feel that way.
1. pick daily – allow time for picking. Early morning or late evening followed by some watering are ideal. It can even be theraputic but a head torch is vital as the days get shorter.
2. portion while you pick – take a plastic bag or Tupperware container with you for each crop. Pack the produce in directly so you can put it straight in the salad drawer.
3. give the gift that shows you care – if you’re giving produce away, take a bag for each recipient and put in a portion of each crop. Everyone loves a selection of fresh produce in their mail box or in tray. It worked with the apple for the teacher, try beans on your boss.
4. no overgrown crops in the house – get them off the plants but don’t allow an oversized bean, bloated marrow or cracked tomato out of the garden. Give them to your chooks, put them on the compost heap or leave them on the ground. If you take them inside they’ll take up space in your fridge and make you feel burdened.
5. plan your meals around what you have. Zucchini lasagne, bean and rocket salad, coleslaw, baked pumpkins, meatloaf. If you’ve got reluctant vegetable eaters in your family some of these hide vegetables in a palatable way. Try taking homemade tomato or pumpkin soup to work for lunch or packing a portable salad nicoise to eat in the sunshine.
6. give away processed produce – invited to take a plate? Make spinach and feta filo parcels, zucchini fritters or pesto pinwheels to pass around. Birthday shout? Wrap some muffins in a basket for a morning tea at work.
7 preserves don’t just mean jam and chutney – although both of these are good. Could mean pesto, pasta, cake or salsa verde. All of which freeze well or just make a more convenient way of serving produce.
Time to put your feet up and read The Land Rover – a new column from my favourite publication. Just checking you read this post right to the end.