Our First Harvest From The Veggie Garden

One of the 12 permaculture principles is Obtain A Yield. The principle urges us to implement solutions that will allow us to harvest something from every design element we build into our plan for the land. The idea is if you are going to put effort (energy) into something, you should receive a benefit (in the form of a store of energy). Another way of looking at it is, everything on your land needs to be producing stuff that’s useful. Either to you or to the other organisms sharing your habitat. This principle needs to be networked into your overall plan for the land, but it also needs to be constantly tinkered with.

One example of how we did this is with the stakes we used when we were mapping out our veggie garden: Instead of using dead wood, we cut living stakes which have now rooted (well, some of them have) and are providing us with a yield (of leaves and other biomass, for mulch) as well as becoming part of our trellis system for beans and gourds to climb on. The way we’re tinkering with the idea is by trying out different species of plants to use as these biomass providers, so we get the maximum yield in the shortest amount of time.

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Today, we harvested our first tomato, from a sprawling plant in our balcony patch. As you can tell by the vibes in this photo, this is a moment for me. ❤ For two reasons. ❤ One, because I have watched this plant grow from a gangly sapling to a sprawling (but still gangly) adult, watched it swell from a pinhead to luscious tomato, watched it gently (and miraculously) turned from mottled green to red, tempting my fate by giving it one more day to ripen on the mama plant. I have watered it, staked and pruned its branches, whispered sweet nothings when the monkeys came visiting. In turn, the plant has witnessed my morning meditations nearly every day of its life. Wonder if it noticed. ❤ Anyway, so there it was, hanging with its peeps until after lunch today, when Vahishta and I were chatting on the back porch, and I thought, ah what the heck, it's a beautiful day, I'm still feeling peckish, and I really want to know what the damn thing tastes like. (Of course, I will love it regardless). ❤ IT WAS WONDERFUL. ❤ Wonderfully sweet and sour, and just so flavourful. All the intensity of a sun-dried tomato, but also ridiculously juicy. It sings salaaaaaaaaaad. 🎵 I am (truly) surprised by how good it was. Which brings me to the other reason: Score One for organic, home-grown produce trumping large-scale market veggies! ❤ Yes, I am aware that this does not mean every other tomato is going to taste this good, but for now, I am just thrilled to bits. ❤ Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is, grow your own tomatoes everybody. It's beautiful, start to finish, and sometimes you might even get some delicious fruit. ❤ #permaculture #PermacultureIndia #KodiByHabitat #HabitatHomestead

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What About The Edible Harvest?

Apart from these initial biomass dividends, we’re also starting to reap some edible fruits of our labor. A group of cherry tomato plants on our back porch have been providing us with a steady supply of the juiciest, most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever tasted. They go great in rasams, sandwiches and pickles. We’ve also been able to harvest a number of leaves, most of them from plants that we put in a couple of months ago: Purple Joyweed and Bathua (which is either Pigweed or Lamb’s Quarters, depending on who you talk to) as well as Red Amaranth and Nasturtium are the semi-perennials we harvest from regularly, while red lettuce and spinach are cut-and-come-again annuals (although we should have a nice long growing season, I don’t think they’ll survive the winter.)

Our very first harvest - a Marigold flower, a red Okra and 5 Feverfew flowers...
Our earliest harvests were just a couple of flowers and the odd okra or bean.

We’re also regularly harvesting flowers from the Calendula, Marigold and Feverfew plants. We’ve got a bunch of beans from a pair of Yard Long Bean plants as well. Herbs have been providing us with a lot of flavour for our salads, pastas and roasts: fresh thyme, spearmint, coriander, onion chives, lemon balm and oregano are all regular features.

It’s fulfilling on a deep and meaningful level to go into the garden and cut or pick or pluck something fresh to eat. But it’s not just a mental or spiritual fulfillment. Growing your own food rewards your physical senses in equal measure. The flavor of home-grown food is undeniably better than anything you might be able to buy from a market. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. You haven’t tasted food until you’ve grown it yourself.