Transition to Spring? - 19th February 2009
- updated 7th/11th/13th/16th/23rd/29th March/11th April/1st/27th May/
    6th July/2nd August/4th December 2009

Theme: Peak Oil, the Transition Movement....

- and how to turn a bramble-infested wilderness into a vegetable garden!

PART 6: The Harvest

23rd March: I've now split this up into several pages as there are so many images!

Quick links to the other parts:

1. Peak Oil & the Transition Movement 2. Garden Clearance 3. Garden Rebuilding

4. Garden Planting 5. Garden Growing 6. The Harvest


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UPDATE - JULY 7th 2009

Harvesting the crops commenced in earnest in July, beginning with the shallots. A double-row in one bed was getting obscured by nasturtiums. I had taken a few up already from this row whilst still green - delicious - and I decided to pull the remainder as they had gone over and a few of the stems were getting a bit mushy - don't want to encourage that!

Nasturtiums overgrowing shallots

Not a bad yield! They are drying in trays in my spare room.

shallots harvest

The bed cleared, I gave it a light rakeover and flung rainbow chard and spinach-seed at it. If those rabbits stay away these could give some decent Autumn greens.....

shallot-bed cleared and replanted

I decided to lift three potato-plants that were overhanging the main path. These are Charlotte - a second early - and it's now within the harvesting bracket, although the plants are still green. Lifting one, I was pleased to see a good crop beneath:

potato harvest

And from the three - a good few kilos of delicious new potatoes :)

potato harvest

The day's pickings ready to take home......


UPDATE - AUGUST 2nd 2009

This entry concerns the main shallot-harvest and the Second Early crop of potatoes:

The shallots have certainly been a success with a good yield of quality specimens. I'll be growing more of these next year, that's for sure!

Ready for home....

After the harvest, a secondary biomass-harvest was done!

Half the shallots went for pickling, the other half dried and stacked with plenty of ventilation....

Charlotte is a Second Early potato so a start was made to harvesting this bed on July 25th, a recently rare day of warm sunshine!

After a wet week, the job was started again on August 2nd....

The reason for turning the whole bed over was to get at the bramble roots that were sprouting - it's amazing how tiny a bit can send a mass of shoots towards the surface. The yield has been good, with just a few discards due to slug damage - about 1% at worst.

wireworm and slugs in potato

These small slugs can wreak havoc with potato crops and I was warned to get the harvest in before they really go for it in September. Scroll past the next image if you don't like creepy-crawlies - it's a close-up:

Slugs and wireworms in a potato

The slugs are maybe a quarter of an inch long and shacked-up in the same hole are wireworms - these being larvae of the click-beetle. Most likely they make the initial way into the potato then the slugs follow.

the potato harvest

Here is the total harvest with the discards in the blue crate.

This morning the first beans were picked. They have really taken off, with the rabbit-protection a success, thankfully!


Autumn in a veg garden can seem a drab time of year. Many things are dying back and fallen leaves strew the place. But there is no shortage of jobs!

This nettle-bed had spread during the summer but was hosting the caterpillars of Comma butterflies. So it stayed until the pupae had all hatched. The stems and leaves were then cut for compost and some of the roots removed and burned.... it'll be the same next year, of course!!


The nasturtiums had spread to a phenomenal extent! In early November these were cut back as they had pushed forward to cover over a row of lavender cuttings that will make a bee-attracting hedge in the coming years...


The Autumn also saw the coppicing of several trees in order to reduce the very high shade levels that the top of the garden saw last Summer. This Birch trunk made an excellent piece of retaining wood to raise the front of this terraced bed in order to reduce its angle....


I worked late that day!

dusk in the garden

A better view in daylight! I managed to get both beds fairly level and much easier to work.....

finished beds

The tangle between the shed & boundary hedge was cleared. This was primarily in case a rabbit-fence needs to be put up quickly. I am undecided about the need for one, having had no problems since I caught and killed one in the summer. Perhaps there was only the one? Seems unlikely, but not impossible....

cleared side of garden shed

The brash from the coppicing/tangle clearance being burnt. Straight hazel sticks are stacked in the corner - these are next years' bean-sticks.


Pernicious weeds - certain grasses, buttercup, bramble etc - were incinerated on such fires once the wood-cores were nice and incandescent. Others went to the compost pile. Note the chard in the background - I am still picking this.

burning pernicious weeds

Here is the location for next years' runner beans, with the trench filled with sheep-manure and seaweed....

bean trench

A good amount of rich compost was made this year. In November, this was spread over selected beds....


To ensure a winter supply in case of frosty weather I potted up some of the parsley. This was a good result - a single pot of parsley from the local co-op, costing less than a pound, snipped to half-stem and then planted out has given a really good strong series of plants. It'll be interesting to see how the other plants left up there get on!


Finally an overview of the garden taken on November 29th. The runner beans have been cleared away, the beds dug over (more bramble roots to remove!) and the purple-sprouting broccoli are coming on strong after their awful start (the seed tray in which they came up was discovered overturned after a local cat had attempted to use it as a regular crapping-point). Some of the plants were staked prior to the November gales....

overview of garden

So perhaps now is a good time to reflect on my first year as a vegetable-grower. Has it been worth it? Without any doubt! I'll just remind myself of what it looked like 10 months ago - and this was after some clearance:

10 months ago

I have a good store of potatoes, shallots and garlic. In the larder are jars of pickled shallots and runner-bean chutney, and in the freezer many bags of runner beans. Since the middle of this summer, I have been mostly self-sufficient in vegetables, and with better planning next year (and much less ground given over to potatoes) the situation should be improvable-upon. I think I will try onions, French beans, turnips/swedes and parsnips for starters - along with the usual runner beans, shallots and garlic. The latter needs to go in very soon, when another cycle will have begun.....

I hope these pages might have inspired a few others to have a go!

John, December 2009

+++Please note that I'll carry on featuring the garden from 2010 onwards in my regular weather-blog pages!+++

1. Peak Oil & the Transition Movement 2. Garden Clearance 3. Garden Rebuilding

4. Garden Planting 5. Garden Growing 6. The Harvest


New! Fine Art Prints & digital images for sale-
Welsh Weather & Dyfi Valley landscapes Slide-Library - Click