Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Golden autumn


buying books from charity shops in the morning,

enjoying a picnic at lunch time

and walking by the canal in the afternoon.

A perfect half-term day.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

First frost and green beans

The last few days have been much cooler and I have turned the heating on in the evenings. Earlier this week at my allotment I saw the evidence of cold nights, a late sowing of french beans had been caught by frost. It must have been a light frost because although the leaves were shrivelling the beans were still alright. I managed to pick a couple of handfuls

which we ate with macaroni and pesto.

At home I am finishing the last of my tomatoes which have been ripening on the kitchen window sill and now the beans are finished, it is coming to the end of the summer vegetables. Time now to enjoy different vegetables and flavours as we move through autumn into winter knowing that we can grow the tender summer crops again next year.

Of course in the supermarkets there is continuous summer with imported tomatoes, beans etc available all year round. A lot of these green beans are grown in Kenya, where although there is drought, precious water is used to grow beans which we then import, often by air, just so we can eat beans in the winter - how crazy is that. Val at The Woolly Shepherd posted about this a couple of weeks ago and I was thinking about the effect our food choices have on others as I prepared our meal.

I hope this winter more of us enjoy the seasonal vegetables that are grown nearer home and leave the tender summer vegetables until next summer.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A day in my life

This month the 14th was a home day for me. My time was filled with housework, washing, tidying, cleaning and all the tasks that need to be done to keep the household running smoothly. I was at home all day so the photos are taken around the house and garden.

I picked the last two apples from the little tree I planted last year. I wanted a late fruiting apple as my other tree is a Discovery and the apples come in August. This one is Sunset and the fruit is ready in late September/October.

The leaves on the grape vine which grows up the back wall of the house are turning now. I like the way they turn red from the edges leaving the veins surrounded by green.

In the afternoon a friend came round for a cup of tea and it was warm enough to sit in the garden. I gave the chickens some biscuit crumbs as a treat. It was difficult to get a sharp photo of them as they were pecking away at the crumbs so fast.

The day does not stay warm for long at this time of the year and soon it was time to be inside cooking dinner.

Now with all the washing up done, we are busy with our individual activities, my husband is watching the England match, my son is busy on the computer and I'm finishing this post. Time for some quiet knitting to round off the day.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

End of the growing season

Before the recent rain I lit a bonfire at my allotment to get rid of all the bits and pieces that the plot generates and which would take a long time to compost. It was all very dry and I soon had a good blaze, burning seed stems from verbascum and foxgloves, fruit bush prunings, parsnip stems that had been allowed to go to seed, the courgettes plants and weeds.

Autumn is a great time if like me you prefer things neat and tidy, all the pruning, raking leaves and removing dead flower heads make the garden seem much more open. I do leave behind the sunflower heads for the birds and also anything that I'd like to self seed.

After several clear starry nights with chilly temperatures, I cleared the tomato and aubergine plants from their pots on the patio before any frosts. This is the remaining harvest.

Chutney making next week with the tomatoes and plenty of baby aubergines for dinner. This is the first year I've grown aubergines and the two plants have done really well.

Larger aubergines have been sliced and layered with sliced courgettes and tomato sauce, topped with breadcrumbs and grated cheese and baked. The smaller ones have been halved, and baked in the oven with pesto - lovely. I'll definitely be growing these again.

I haven't tidied the runner beans yet because in a shady part of the garden they are still producing well. They have had a long season this year and there are a few more meals to come unless we have a frost.

Although I think of the autumn as the end of the growing season, the garden doesn't really stop. There will be leeks and parsnips from the allotment and perpetual spinach and chard if the deer don't eat it all.

At home I've been sowing seed.

A few winter lettuce, with the hope of growing some salads in my mini greenhouse tucked in by the fence at the back of the house. I'd love a "proper" greenhouse but this is all space permits in my garden. It should be sheltered but the last time I tried this, the whole thing blew over sending salad all over the patio. Its weighted down with a paving slab in the base so fingers crossed for this year.

Harvesting and sowing seeds, enjoying the produce of one season and preparing for the next, feeling connected with the cycles of the year, growing food even if it is only a small part of what we eat, is a lovely part of my life.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Rainy days and a new book

Since I wrote my last post about how dry everything was, it has rained almost constantly! This has been my view of it, from inside looking out. A very wet garden and not a chicken in sight, they have spent a lot of time under their favourite bush just standing and looking.

Warm and dry inside the house I have been enjoying the opportunity to catch up on a few jobs. After getting the routine housework done, I tackled the mending pile, baked, did a little knitting and even found time for some reading.

At the moment I am reading The China Study which looks at the connection between diet and health particularly the "western" diseases such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes. The recommendation - a whole foods, plant based diet. I am only half way through the book at the moment but it seems a very well written and researched book and it is making me think about what we eat. We only eat meat two or three times a week but we do eat quite a bit of dairy so our diet does have a fair amount of animal based food. Has anyone read this book? and if so did it make you change your diet?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Early Autumn

There was lots of autumn colour to photograph on my walk yesterday morning, more than usual I thought for early October.

Once home, I looked back at last years photos ( isn't it convenient how all the photo information is stored on the computer - so easy to compare dates) and it looks as if autumn is about 10 days maybe two weeks earlier this year.

I wonder if it is the lack of rain. The photo below is our village pond. It always does dry out in summer but there is usually a very soggy muddy bit in the middle. By this time of year it is starting to fill up again but its been dry for so long that grass has started to grow on the bottom. I wonder if all the frogs and newts are safely buried somewhere.

Whatever the reason, the early autumn colour was brilliant in the sunshine.

Common Field Maple




The weather today is the opposite of yesterday and as I have been writing this, it has started to rain (which is a nuisance as I have a load of washing in the machine and I hate draping wet washing around the house!) so perhaps the pond will be a bit more pond-like in a while.