6 Sep 2018

In September's sweet spot (End of month view)

apple tree with fruit


If there's a month of the year that food growers need to be ready for, it's September. (Or August if you grow courgettes!) It's a month of plenty so hopefully we're all enjoying eating some of what we've grown and working out how to make the most of the rest. It's a busy time in the kitchen so, over the next few weeks, I'll be writing a few posts on how I'm using and storing what's ripe in my veg patch.


Freshly pulled bunch of white, yellow, orange and red baby carrots on a cloth

Hand holding a large freshly picked cob of sweetcorn, outer leaves pulled back to show the yellow kernels.

Small white pumpkin squash hanging on the vine

Clover like leaves of Oca next to purple radish flower

Pink strawberry flower

Small patch of wild violets

Cluster of raspberries on the stem in sunshine


So, hello Autumn. Like it or not, the summer's over, dusk is getting earlier and nights chillier. But, for this week at least, the weather here in London is currently in the sweet spot between the thunderstorms of August and the shorter chillier days of October.  Skies are sometimes blue, the sun is deliciously warm rather than baking hot and evenings are light until just before 8.00 pm - in short, perfect gardening weather.  I love these days and think that September might be my new favourite month of the year - lots to do but also lots to harvest. This is the time when all those jars I've carefully stored are brought down from the top of cupboards and used to bottle fruit and chutney, cakes and crumbles are made, the freezer will be filled and I'm seriously thinking about buying a dehydrator. What can I say? I love dried apple rings.

Having said that, I didn't think there would be much to show for my meagre gardening efforts this year - I'm so wimpy about gardening in the heat - but I'm surprised to find that there are daily pickings to be had for the kitchen - tomatoes (almost finished now), corn cobs, apples, pears, raspberries, onions, garlic, peppers, salad onions and salad leaves. There's even a few late sown tiny carrots and one or two strawberries. And I'm so in love with my tiny Baby Boo pumpkins, they're just so cute!

The veg garden is in the grip of autumnal exuberance where everything is going a bit manic.  I have to bend past branches of autumn raspberries dripping with fruit unless I want berry stains all over my clothes, self-seeded achocha is vining its way through the surrounding fence, strawberry runners need potting up, the Cavolo kale has fallen over it's got so big and the ground is awash with seedlings of bee-enticing Verbena bonariensis, honeywort, feverfew, purple toadflax and poppies. (All self sown and they'll have to be relocated at some point I expect.) There's even a patch of tiny violets that's found its way over to the veg patch from a border ten feet away and is currently making me feel very happy!

I'm itching to tidy up the herb bed. Of the perennial herbs, chives have been cut back and are now reflowering (say whaaat?); oregano and thyme are looking very scruffy but they're covered with flowers, and therefore bees, which is a good thing;  and salad burnet seems to have multiplied profusely while I wasn't paying attention.  Ditto with the sorrel, which has already been cut back twice this year but continues to defy me with fresh green lemony leaves.  It's a plant that I grow for its baby leaves for salad but, as it grows vigorously, the baby leaves are easily missed so the death knell was sounding for this plant.  However ... I've just found a recipe for sorrel risotto - again, thanks totally wonderful local library - so a stay of execution could be on the cards. (If you're wondering why I don't grow parsley, mint, basil, etc - I do. But herbs I use daily are in pots on my balcony.)

I also grow lovage and sweet cicely in another border.  Both were cut back very recently and have already sent up new leaves which is great - they're both back on the menu after my recent visit to the kitchen garden at Raymond Blanc's Le Manoir.  Purple and ordinary green sage have been revived by lots of recent rain - I'll be sharing a few recipes for sage, including my guilty pleasure tipple of sage liqueur - it's delicious!

I'm working out what to do with an impressive amount of apples ... and pears too if I can find a way of getting them down from on high without bruising them. I'm thinking cake, first, but I quite like peeling and coring the apples, then freezing them for winter use; even with apples being so readily available in the shops, it feels like a treat to defrost apple chunks for crumbles, or stewed with cinnamon and topped with cream or custard. My only problem at the moment is that the fruit looks so gorgeous hanging on the tree that it seems a shame to pick it! I've probably taken hundreds of photographs of these apples over the years but they just keep getting better (the apples I mean, not the photos!).

So is that it for this year?  Not at all.  I'll leave the baby pumpkins until the foliage dies down, the corn cobs are still getting fatter with any rain that falls, purple sprouting broccoli were planted out in July so that I have veg next spring, kale is the gift that keeps on giving, I've counted twenty four quinces ripening and I'm growing oca for the first time which I'm quite excited about. I've not tasted oca before so I'm intrigued to try some.  I've read that the little (hopefully not too little!) tubers won't be ready until the foliage is killed off good and proper by frost ... like the nasturtiums ... and who knows when that will be!

Here's a question - what do you with your pumpkins and squashes?
I usually use mine in risotto but I'd love to hear other suggestions.

Homegrown harvest: Colourful plate of yellow, red and orange tomatoes with salad leaves and purple spring onions.



14 comments:

  1. Mmmm. September is a great time of year, but then so is July, August, April and May's not bad either ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol! but not June? And surely too much work in April and May to enjoy the garden, although there's always purple sprouting broccoli and asparagus to look forward to!

      Delete
  2. September is just wonderful isn't it? I abandoned my garden during the hot weather too so am surprised by my harvests. Looking forward to seeing what you cook, I use courgettes in a variety of pasta dishes.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've just started using courgettes in soup (see next post) and usually use them in lasagne. Never tried them in pasta though ... Hmmm, now you've got me thinking! xx

      Delete
  3. Squash es are one of our staples through winter especially in casseroles, tagines and curries.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I had more space for both growing and storing, I'd treble (or quadruple) the amount of squash I grow; it's a veg that I'm never without in my kitchen albeit usually store bought. I need to be more adventurous with squash - I've never cooked a tagine!

      Delete
  4. You would probably like the risotto my wife Jane makes: Arborio rice, chicken stock, lightly roasted squash (a little bit black at the edges but still firm), chopped fresh Sage leaves and some dried chilli flakes. It's delicious! (But then so is my Squash & Tomato soup).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Love the sound of your squash and tomato soup, Mark - I usually cook one or the other, never tried both together but sounds good! Yes, I think I would most definitely like Jane's risotto; it sounds similar to the one I make but I don't pre-roast the squash as it goes in as raw cubes and cooks during the process and I also add chorizo towards the end. As you say, YUMMY!!

      Delete
  5. A good post and lovely pictures. There certainly has been plenty to harvest and enjoy recently. I hope that the apples and pears are as good as they look.
    I really like this month too so try to make the most of it on the plot before the weather changes as it undoubtedly will. Happy gardening. xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The apples, Braeburns, have never been better, Flighty. They're nothing like the ones that can be bought, these are crisp and delicious with a sharp/sweet flavour. It's been a very good year for fruit. Good idea to make the most of being outdoors, I've a feeling it won't be long now before the weather changes, but I live in hope for a few more weeks of mild temperatures - I need to get my garlic and spring bulbs in!

      Delete
  6. It's looking good Caro! I use my squash mainly in pasta - roasted, served with fetta, toasted pine seeds and either kale or rocket, depending on what is available in the garden! Also good in a salad with beetroot! Happy eating! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh, I never thought of putting squash with beetroot! How colourful! Thanks for that inspiration, beetroot is another favourite. It's brilliant to be able to be inspired by what's growing and the pasta dish sounds delicious, I love all the ingredients you've mentioned and will be giving it a try out - thanks! x

      Delete
  7. You're right about being ready for it - while ornamental gardeners are doing a bit of deadheading and pruning, we are busy at it with the harvest. Not the best time to go away - which is what I'm doing in a couple of days. Oh well - I'll have to harvest what I can and resign myself to the fact that there will be some losses before I return. It hasn't been too bad of a summer overall, considering, so I'm counting that as a blessing :)

    One of my favourite uses for squash is in soup and I love including apples in that soup, especially if they are on the tart side - so you have two of the requisite ingredients for one of my favourite soups in your backyard! As for that dehydrator, I say go for it!! You will end up using it even more than you think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It might be hard work, processing all the stuff we've grown, but it's really special to open a jar of pickled beans or bottled plums in the middle of winter and know that you've grown them yourself! I love it! I also love the sound of your soup; the tartness of the apples would balance the sweetness of the squash ... sounds delicious! I'm going to track down a recipe because it sounds really good. In the same vein, I used to love apple and cheese sandwiches, a combo I first came across when I moved to London all those years ago. Hope you're enjoying your holiday - of course you are, I saw on Insta that you're in a very fab place! x

      Delete

Thank you to everyone who leaves a comment, it helps to know that my scribblings are being read! If you have a question, I'll answer it here or contact me via the 'Contact Me' form at the top.

Comment moderation is on to avoid spam nonsense getting published. No offence to genuine commenters who are very welcome!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...