i-D Gardener in Residence Scarlett Cannon uncovers the meaning behind the tinned soup festival.
Click images to enlarge.
In September we celebrate Madron, more commonly known as Harvest Festival. This is the time of Autumn Equinox, generally marked on 21st, although as with the other Equinox and Solstices, the date may move slightly from year to year and here in the UK it will actually fall on 22nd September.
Similar to Oestara; Easter, or Spring Equinox, this is again a time of balance when day and night are of equal length. It’s a time for rebalancing the self, for throwing out the old and bringing in the new. It’s also the time to celebrate the harvest.
At Autumn Equinox the crops have been harvested in preparation for the harsh winter weather. In days gone by, when we were completely dependent on what we could grow for ourselves, this was the indication of how successful the harvest had been. The people could gauge how much they would have to live on through the long, cold, dark winter months. Up at Magic Plot 7 this has been a hard year for the crops with endless weeks of unseasonably cold temperatures accompanied by rain, rain and more rain during the first part of the season. Nothing much was growing and crops that were showed visible signs of struggle. Suddenly, out of nowhere and overnight the temperature soared to full roast, which baked the soil and dried the struggling vegetable plants. The weather certainly is out of balance.
As a result the harvest is late in 2012. I’ve only just started cropping climbing beans, notably my favourite variety ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’ as well as purple podded French beans, usually available from about June onwards. The potato harvest was only about one quarter of what would normally be expected. Blight hit the tomatoes yet again – I’m just going to stop planting them on the allotment from now on and will grow a few in containers at home where my garden remains remarkably blight-free. Courgettes finally produced good fruits but not until mid-August, beetroot are becoming ready now as are tasty Swiss Chard leaves, although I would usually have been harvesting these for weeks by now. It’s been a tough old year on the land alright. On a serious and more global note, I expect we will have further food price increases to look forward to; imagine how this must have affected commercial farmers.
Growing your own fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables frees you from at least some of this added expense and dependency. As always, I actively encourage all of you to take up this empowering and enjoyable activity. We food growers hold the power!
Text and Photography: Scarlett Cannon
From top: Late crop including beetroot, yellow carrots, purple beans, tomatoes and yellow courgettes; Cherokee Trail of Tears climbing bean; Green courgette; Swiss Chard;