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Chinese Harvest Takeaway

I write this sitting in my 10th floor room in a Beijing hotel. I love this city but outside the smog is so thick I am viewing

the world shrouded in grey. The Chinese Garden below is a green oasis surrounded by tower block brutalism. But even here, in this city of hustle and bustle, people are preparing to celebrate the Harvest Moon. Their festival consists of three fundamental meanings that are closely tied to one another:

  • Gathering, such as family and friends coming together, or harvesting crops
  • Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the harvest, or for harmonious unions
  • Praying (asking for conceptual or material satisfaction), such as for babies, a spouse, beauty, longevity, or for a good future.

Sound familiar? In Britain too, thanks have been given for successful harvests since pagan times. As in China, Harvest Festival is traditionally held when the full Moon is closest to the autumn equinox.

I thought a few Chinese gardening proverbs might raise a wry smile, an inspiring thought or a muffled guffaw.

“Flowers leave some of their fragrance in the hand that bestows them.”

“All gardeners know better than other gardeners.”

“He who plants a garden, plants happiness.”

“If you have two pennies, spend one on a loaf and one on a flower. The bread will give you life and the flower a reason

for living.”

“If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk; If you want to be happy for three days, get married; If you want to be happy forever, make a garden.”

“Each and every grain of rice in your bowl is the fruit of the toiling farmers.”

“Whoever loves and understands a garden will find contentment within.”

“Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.”

I found this poem, ”Toiling Farmers” by the Tang-Dynasty (618-907) Poet Li Shen that I think resonates well for all growers:

Farmers weeding at noon, Sweat down the field soon, Who knows food on a tray, Thanks to their toiling day?

Website of the month

Soil Association: www.soilassociation.org

With a strap line reading, “healthy soil, healthy people, healthy planet” this is an interesting site for the organically minded. Of particular interest to those with children could be the tag on ‘farms to visit’

What to do this month

  • Sow broad beans Plant garlic, onion sets, sow radish, winter lettuce, peas
  • Grow cut fruited canes of hybrid berries to ground level Cover bean plants with horticultural fleece to extend cropping
  • Eat beetroot, carrot, cabbage (Chinese), cauliflower, celery, kohl rabi, leaf beet, parsnips, Brussels sprouts after frosty weather has improved flavour.

If you would like advice from a Master Gardener then please contact Susan Watt or I:

suzwatt@gmail.com or 07711 498047

keithwellsted@btconnect.com or 0771 8196577

Have your own Harvest Festival next year – grow your own.