Wednesday, 20 December 2017

October 2017 in pictures

The autumn harvest from the garden continues: squash, cauliflower, herbs, carrots, tomatoes and courgettes. 

The sweet chestnuts came from a tree next to The Church of Our Lady and St Anne in Caversham. It is a well established tree and there is always a good crop, although the quality of the chestnuts does vary from year to year. This year they were really plump and a great addition to stews and casseroles.
We gathered in the last of the tomatoes, some of which were still green but may ripen indoors. They are usually eaten before that happens, though, chopped and fried with a little garlic, onion salt and chilli. It was not the highest yielding year we've ever had but a good one and we did manage to avoid the blight that afflicted so many vegetable gardens and allotments in the area. The photo on the left is a sample of some of the varieties we grew this season.

A friend gave me a bag of quince from their garden. I poached some in a honey syrup along with some foraged apples and the rest I incorporated into marmalade (recipe to follow in a separate post).

We harvested the two monster squashes that were growing against our kitchen wall; they weighed in at just over 6lb each in weight. I found the label at the base of the plant and it said "Harlequin". I've been collecting seeds from our squashes for about three years and so far the harlequins have all been small to medium sized yellow/orange specimens (see the one on the right in the photo). I initially thought that there had been cross pollination to produce the green giant on the left but on checking my seed catalogues I see that Harlequin is an F1 hybrid. It's amazing that my collected seed generated so many "true" harlequins. Some of the green giant was made into chutney and the rest eaten over two weeks in risottos, curries and roasted veg recipes. Its twin is waiting to be eaten. We shall probably tackle it at the end of the year!

Our other main harvest was that of runner bean seeds. We have been growing runner beans and collecting our own seed for many years and have long forgotten what varieties they are/were. It doesn't really matter as they are well adapted to our garden conditions, are prolific and taste good. I may, though, try out one or two new "bought-in" varieties next year.
Some of the brassica and swiss chard seedlings have been planted out in areas that won't be trampled on when our storm-damaged, dividing fence is replaced (hopefully in November). They have all been covered with fleece, not to protect them from frost but to stop the pigeons getting at them! The brussel sprouts that you can see in the background are big enough to take care of themselves. 

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