September and October in the Garden
Goodness, so Autumn rolled in fairly quick and I realise that September affirmed my love for late summer sea swimming, hot coffees in the greenhouse and seed catalogue perusing. It also heralds the early morning school-prep "treadmill", lunches, clean uniforms, piano lessons and study reminders- the joys (and privileges) of family life! My lengthy time spent in the garden over lockdown still feels very close to my heart. Never before had I been able to literally submerge myself in seedling care and successive sowings as I have this year. It had always been a bit hap-hazzard, trial and error balancing so many other things in life. How much I've learned! Taken more sowing and growing risks, trying new varieties, keeping crops going and harvests coming -its been such a special time.
Autumn is our fruit tree harvest season. Our beautiful Elstar apple and Conference pear trees are both laden offering regular crumbles, compotes, porridge toppings, cakes, bakes and juice. I recently made delicious poached pears with cinnamon and fennel seed- wonderful combo to top steaming bowl of porridge as the mornings get darker- and colder. On my list-to-try is Ottolenghi's apple and olive oil cake!
The leeks and carrots have also been a huge success this year- so much so that I've ordered 3 packets of the Yellowstone carrot seeds to ensure an abundance of these delicious carrots for next year. They are wonderful for steaming, souping, roasting or simply raw in dips-a highly recommended variety for growing in my opinion.
I can't let an autumn garden blog go without mentioning the gorgeous grapes! They are wonderful to see growing from tiny little buds on the vine in March to dark and vibrant grapes come autumn. Although the vine wasn't the most organised of structures this year, I'm loosening my grip of needing it to "behave" a certain way! I've simply "guided" it differently this year to maximise air flow and sun light, which has reflected in the fab harvest this year.
Unfortunately the squash and pumpkins weren't a huge success but I was delighted with one of each (Hokkaido and Blue Uchiki Kuri). Still delicious roasted with cumin for my mackeral salad or added to a simple chick pea curry with coriander rice. Determined to grow more pumpkins and squashes for next year, I've turned over part of our front lawn that I will mulch in preparation for more space to grow these fantastic veg. I'm passionate about growing more food, primarily because it feels like an extension of me (or something like that) and also for environmental reasons. Without getting too political, food is a political issue and nutrition is as much an environmental science as it is one pertaining to health. I feel incredibly privileged to have the space (and time and [some] knowledge) to grow plants and equally sense the vulnerability of our future food system. As I've mentioned before, we may feel like a small fish with our household growing spaces and yet, every little helps- including growing some potted herbs, a tomato plant on the kitchen windowsill or a recycled tub for salad leaves. And so with regards to pumpkins and squash they store really well, are super nutritious and are wonderfully suited to our Irish climate, making them a good choice for your veggie patch..... hopefully next year I can tell you all my successful growing tips!
To finish off my Autumn gardening ramblings I wanted to share our paint job on the potting shed! A sweet two-tone in greys feels like a lick of care on my beloved little space that offers me so much. I'm currently reading the The Green Witch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock, a beautiful account of connecting with nature, the energy of plants and our living spaces. She mentions the wonders of having a "sacred outdoor space", and I couldn't agree more, my little potting shed is like a little energetic space that homes the gardener in me...... and with truth be told, has been in the making since I was about 8 years old.