Roasted garlic on home-baked bread. Pasta tossed with basil pesto. Tomato pie. Fried green tomatoes. Grilled zucchini. Stuffed peppers. Corn casserole with jalapenos. Fresh harvest pizza. Should I stop there or do I dare mention the figs, which are delicious, nutritious, and falling off the trees right now? There is no single weekend that can be considered “harvest time” here in metro-Atlanta. The crops come continually–you find yourself with armfuls of string beans, tomatoes lining every windowsill, a bucket by the door filled with butternut squash, and even when fall starts to blow its horn (or is that just the school bus in August, for goodness sake?), eggplants, peppers, and okra overflowing on the kitchen counter, along with yet more cukes and squash and even a melon or two (finally). It’s easy to think this will never end, but it will (don’t worry–lettuces, cooking greens, broccoli, potatoes, turnips, beets, and cool season herbs are on their way soon).
Now is the time to share and celebrate your summer bounty, if you haven’t been doing so already:
1. Host a pot-luck at your community garden and ask people to bring a dish that has at least one ingredient they’ve grown in it. You may even want to hire Farmer D to do a walk-and-talk around your community garden and give individual gardening advice to each participating member about finishing out the summer season and transitioning to fall. He did this at my community garden last December and it was truly fantastic.
2. Take a moment to visit your neighbors and deliver some fresh goodies from the garden. Know a new mom in your neighborhood? Go all out and make her a nice, healthy meal with fresh-picked goodness. She will never forget your kindness.
3. Bring a big bowl of cherry tomatoes to work. Place them in the break room, turn your back, and I guarantee they will be gone.
4. Check out Plant a Row for the Hungry and bring a few pounds of fresh garden produce to a food pantry that will accept it near you. You may not think you have much to offer, but as a gardener I know says when she brings her small amount to the food pantry nearest her each week, “I put it on the table with the other donated produce and I see how it adds up.”
5. Take the time to honor the bounty grown from your own labor at every meal. That alone is worth celebrating.
I’ve been out in my garden clearing the way for the season to come, and I’d recommend you spend just a little time doing this each day (it’s way too hot for more than that). Not only does my garden look better and feel suddenly more manageable again, but I keep finding things–onions, potatoes, pattypan squash, and when did I plant those tomatillos? I’m starting to think I have to plan another potluck soon! I’m also starting to think about the soil amendments, seeds, and more I need from Farmer D to be ready for fall planting starting September 1.