Eating foods in season is both economically and environmentally the best option. So, for example, I rarely buy tomatoes in winter, and only buy British strawberries even in summer. There are foods I buy that have air miles attached, grapes in particular and some other fruits, but even then, price is often a good guide line as to their season, and it would cost far more to grow them closer to home.

I have been picking cherries for about four weeks … from before they were ripe (to get a look in before the blackbirds found them!) until they were sweet and juicy when all of a sudden they seem to disappear overnight. Even the hens have been used to rushing out as soon as they were released from the run to see what had fallen overnight … they peck the stones clean! :D

So no more cherries for us this year, and six very confused hens for a week or two until they get over it! :icon_mrgreen:

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the foods we eat in season …

In winter months I buy sprouts (sadly neither enough space nor right conditions to grow them at home), squash and winter greens.

As the sprouts come to an end, our broad beans come into season, followed by cabbages and kale, and then runner beans to take us through to the autumn. Lettuce grow throughout the summer, but I fight a losing battle against slugs and either have a glut or a shortage, I can never seem to get it just right! There are tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse, looking good for this summer after a disappointing season last year.

Hopefully in the autumn we’ll have a few of our own squash, but I’m not hopeful this year as the plants went into the ground rather late … I don’t think I’ll grow potatoes in the ground again again, since they take up too much space while other plants wait for somewhere to grow.

Then there are the fruits. We start in May with elderflower (I make cordial each year, enough to freeze some for year round use), then cherries and strawberries* in June, then a bit of a wait until the blackberries by the railway line start to ripen, then apples in late autumn (our particular variety is very late, a bit of a nuisance for making preserves, but I can pick the other fruits and freeze them in the meanwhile, particularly blackberries and elderberries). We’ll have no figs this year as the tree was heavily pruned this past winter … it might be a year or two before we start to get fruit again. After a good year last year, the gooseberries have been eaten by the hens (!) so we’ll move the bush this autumn, after pruning, which probably means we’ll have no fruit next year either, until we have some regrowth the following year.

I have grown onions for a number of years, too … but as with the potatoes, now that we have a much smaller space in which to grow veg (because the hens have a section of our growing space for their run and garden) I don’t think I’ll bother another year. It’s not particularly economical to grow either of them them, and I use far more than I could ever grow. So I’ll buy them in future years, and keep an eye on where they come from (did anyone see that programme with Jimmy Doherty looking at how potatoes are grown in Egypt among other things?).

However, cost will inevitably be a factor in the purchasing decisions I have to make, so I cannot make purchasing decisions on seasonality and locality alone, but I’m quite pleased – I wasn’t really aware of how much we were already doing to cook and eat seasonally. :)

*our strawberries usually have a much longer season, but because we are in the process of moving the kitchen garden around to accommodate the hens, they are in pots/troughs this year, and are much more limited. When they are in the ground, this particular variety will fruit for up to three months. I’ve no idea what variety it is, we found one plant in the ground at our previous house and all these plants are descendants of that one plant!

PS – we can, of course, extend the seasons by freezing, and I freeze loads of apple and blackberries each year, as well as the elderflower cordial. But we’ve been disappointed with our frozen runner beans and as our freezer space is also limited, we took the decision a few years ago to share our produce when we have a glut … folk at church always seem happy to take a few broad beans or lettuces off our hands! :D

Advertisements