in the garden – October

As we hit autumn, gardening seems to consist mainly of tidying up (or at least thinking about it), harvesting and reflecting on the past season.

leeks carrots beetroot

leeks, carrots and beetroot


Carrots and beetroot are still yielding well, beans are coming to an end, the courgettes and greenhouse tomatoes are slowing down.

Concorde pears

Concorde pears

Last year the pears were a disaster and we only had a handful to pick. This year the pears are hanging from the branches and I’ve just started to pick them and bring them inside to ripen. Of course, I never get it right. Exactly how long is a pear at the perfect stage for eating? It seems to me that it’s a 30 minute window. In the morning they seem as hard as a rock and by the evening they’re soft and pappy. I shall use some of the pears before they’re fully ripe, probably to poach or bake. The pears in the photo are Concorde and we also have Louise Bonne of Jersey and Beth. We’re not very technical when it comes to choosing varieties. The Concorde were chosen because they’re heavy croppers, the Louise Bonne because they’re a pretty red and green (though ours are small and scabby and not all pretty) and Beth because one of daughters is called Beth. I suspect the Louise Bonne is in too windy a position, but hopefully when the hedge behind it grows, the wind will ease off a little.

apple trees

The apples are ripening fast. We’ve eaten most of the Discovery so that the only fruit left on the tree now are the high ones that I can’t reach. Sunset are just starting to ripen, Holstein will be juiced and the Bramley’s Seedling tree is weighted down with apples this year, which probably means that we won’t get any next year. As you can see from the photo, we have a lot of windfall apples.

Every year I worry about the waste as the apples gather under the trees. I’ve tried storing them in trays in a cool, dark room but half of them seem to go rotten and most of the others are disappointingly soft and woolly when we eat them. Some of the apples are eaten or cooked as they’re picked and a lot of them are used for apple juice or cider. I try to make as much apple sauce as possible too, to freeze. Normally I go through the laborious process of peeling, coring and cooking the apples in a large pan but this year, taking inspiration from Misk at The Chalk Hills Kitchen, I’ve been using my food mill. I cut a line around the equator of each apple, put them into a large baking tin and baked them for 45 minutes until they were soft. OK, some of them had exploded slightly but that was because I didn’t use equally sized apples. Then I put them through the food mill, which sieved out the pips and skin. It’s smoother than I would normally make it, but I can always add some chopped apple for texture if I need it and that’s counterbalanced by the fact that it was so much quicker and easier than my normal method.

Do you have any suggestions for storing apples?

on the To Do list

Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichokes

The Jerusalem artichokes have taken over the corner of the garden and are heading skywards at an alarming rate. When the foliage starts to turn yellow, the stems will be cut down to about 10cms and we’ll lift the tubers with a fork when we need them.

Success of the summer

The packet of Cutting Celery that has been sitting in the Seed Box for years was a surprising success. It looks similar to my parsley, though the stem is ribbed as opposed to the smooth stem of the parsley. I’ve been chopping the stems and leaves to add to soups and stews where I want a hint of celery.


The cold wet spring meant that we didn’t sow everything we planned. The squash and pumpkin seeds germinated but all died off and we never got round to buying more seeds so I’m disappointed that I have none in the garden now when I could do with them.

Posted as part of the The Garden Share Collective which aims to create a community of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window cills. If you go to Strayed from The Table you can see what’s happening in all the gardens.


37 thoughts on “in the garden – October

  1. elaine says:

    All round I don’t think it has been too bad a year – although I still seem to have a lot of green tomatoes. But the fruit crops have been exceptional – I didn’t have anything at all last year. I don’t really have any extra suggestions for apples except perhaps drying them or making Windfall Marmalade which tastes surprisingly like normal marmalade.


  2. thelandroverownerswife says:

    My pumpkins and squashes also suffered this year and whilst I got two good size Anna Swartz Hubbards, the Cobnuts, Butternuts and Winter Festivals have all been tiny/small and the two pumpkins are only the size of honeydew melons (and 1 of them is a small honeydew ;)).

    Ah well, at least I got two pumpkins, so the younger Mudlets are happy because that’s one each and good things do come in small packages (so I’m told :))


    • Anne @ Life in Mud Spattered Boots says:

      We just dug up some Jerusalem artichoke tubers that had been planted in a field as shooting cover and put them in the veg bed. I don’t dig all of them up every year, so that some are left to grow again next year. They keep coming up every year with very little effort on my part, which is my sort of gardening.


  3. sally says:

    When we were kids we used to wrap the apples individually in newspaper then store them in a big pile in the shed. The shed was attached to the house and made of some kind of concrete so it was very cold (we were in Hampshire so not the coldest end of the UK).. The potatoes were kept in there as well, but in a sack rather than individually wraped. The apples kept all winter that way and I dont remember them going floury. But now I do wonder how they were never eaten by mice?


  4. lizzie @ strayedtable says:

    I couldn’t grow an apple tree if I tried, its just to warm where we are. However I would make plenty of cider for the year to come. I also think that Celia has a great idea to use them as picton – very clever.
    Will be interested to know what you will be planting next month if the weather fines up for you.


  5. Glenda says:

    Fantastic Anne, Why don’t you preserve your apples in a light sugar syrup for apple pie in winter? It is very easy. I have a post on it if you need.


  6. Jo @ Countrylifeexperiment says:

    Our apple trees are too small for apples yet, but I love the idea of using a food mill to remove the pips and skin. I was also going to suggest an apple slinky machine. I made a heap of stewed apple last season and just bottled them like jam, and they kept beautifully. A lot easier if you have limited freezer space like we do.


  7. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    Hello Anne, a lovely tour of your patch once again. Your pears look so abundant…I have two young pear trees which are yet to fruit. I am waiting patiently! Your artichokes look like trees, they are amazing! How do you cook them? I have only just planted some but there is no sign of foliage yet. Happy gardening to you.


  8. thegardendeli says:

    Thanks for suggesting I look at the comments here for some apple ideas – windfall marmalade is now on the list! I’m going to try storing some apples this year too, although I have a feeling the stored fruit will be feeding the mice rather than my family… And the windfalls will be left for the blackbirds and hens to enjoy.


  9. Jenny says:

    I’m afraid I have no good suggestions for storing apples at all. Ours rot as you watch! We’ve stewed that survived and frozen them this year, so at least they’re not going to waste – but it was quite an effort where I’d much rather rack them all up and deal with them as we want them!


  10. Karen says:

    It sounds like it has been a wonderful year in your garden. Having an orchard, people always ask me about storage. Apples will stay longer if they can be refrigerated in bags with holes in them.


  11. andreamynard says:

    Your garden and harvest looks wonderful, very envious of all that fruit. We’ve just been pressing apples for juice and cider this weekend, but haven’t any pears yet. A few years to wait I think for us. I’m thinking of growing celery now having read this – would be really handy to have the leaves to hand for soups etc.


  12. Alex says:

    That’s a great tip for making apple sauce, thank you. I’m getting really fed up with peeling and chopping apples, there are so many this year. I’ve been experimenting with storing apples too and I’ve had similar results to you, the only variety that are at all successful is egremont russet, but even these go wrinkly after a few months.


  13. dianeskitchentable says:

    I know exactly what you mean about pears & that 30 minute window of perfect ripeness. It was a very strange year for growing & I don’t recall that we even had a spring here. I love your raised beds & would like to have a few myself.


  14. Misky says:

    Thanks for the mention, Anne. Much appreciated. I find that apples have a shelf-life, and no matter what you do, they’ll sooner or later turn pulpy or start bruising. You need a cold storage facility without any oxygen. That’s how the professionals do it. Try to find somewhere as cold as possible, and totally dark. We’ve never been able to store apples longer than Christmas, and we’ve tried all sorts of tricks and methods. Let me know if you discover something that works! 😀


  15. e / dig in hobart says:

    hello from a fellow garden share collective-r. this is my first time to your site and it’s so beautiful – i feel like i have taken a trip thru the rural english countryside without leaving hobart. i do adore the photos of your garden beds, so neatly lined up. my idea of bliss. i’m off to look thru the rest of life in mud spattered boots 🙂


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