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