Gathering the fruits of your labour

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Ripe tomatoes ready to harvest

THE summer harvest of garden vegetables is in full swing.

If you have a vegetable patch that is being productive, you should be bringing in basket loads of tomatoes, peppers, aubergines,  cucumbers, melons, summer squash, onions and a variety of other specialty summer produce.

It is a challenge to have a successful vegetable garden in the Mediterranean climate.

The reward is the freshest of produce grown with your own care and management. You know exactly what has gone into growing it and you can harvest it just at the right time to fully appreciate it at its best. Tomatoes ripened on the plant to full maturity have a taste and quality that cannot be obtained through most bought produce outlets.

Often the harvest will have an abundance of produce all at the same time. Even careful planning cannot completely elude the tendency of nature to have her feast and famine cycles. The good thing about this though is the ability to share and conserve produce.

Sharing is best when the it is a mutual benefit for everyone. Many gardeners love to share their produce with others but over time, when they consider the work necessary to grow the produce, it is less inspiring if those they share with have not shared the work or returned the favour in some way. This is a shame as the appreciation of quality produce requires the appreciation of the quality producer.

An abundance of produce to harvest is a good opportunity to help conserve much of the produce for the seasons of the year the produce cannot be grown. Opening a jar of fully ripened aromatic tomatoes in winter can bring back the memory of the summer harvest and provide a nourishing addition to the meal. Even if you are not a gardener it is a great opportunity to help out to preserve the fruits of the summer harvest for the colder months.

The summer garden harvest provides the key ingredients for many Mediterranean salad and cold soup recipes.

The addition of fresh, full flavoured, fully matured, crisp and turgid items from the garden really does take the meal to another level of quality. Whether it is a potato salad, pasta salad, salad for paella, gazpatcho cold soups or spanish style bread roll with cheese, tomatoes and other regional ingredients according to taste they will all be enhanced by the fruits of the garden in the summer harvest.

So if you are fortunate enough to be a gardener that can grow your own produce, it is the time to take it easy during the summer heat and enjoy the benefits of your winter and spring efforts to obtain an abundance of summer time harvest of delicious and nutritious produce that you have grown yourself.

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