As the start of meteorological autumn, September heralds the beginning of the new season in all its golden glory, and as soon as my birthday is over (3rd September), I can’t help but start planning for Christmas! (However early that may seem…) But, looking out into my garden, the seasons seem to have a different plan altogether. Summer is still in full swing, with bright flowers and ripe vegetables clamouring to be picked and eaten. The sun still feels robust when it peeks through the clouds, and there is little sign of the crispness and chill that autumn brings.
Thanks to a particularly prevalent courgette plant, we’re still up to our ears in them, and that’s including after I made a large batch of courgette and potato soup to use a few up before they went over! We’re also wading through a healthy crop of cucumbers, still have a consistent supply of beetroot to keep us going and are finally getting there with our home grown tomatoes! The plants are laden with more fruits than either of us have ever seen on one vine, and the first ones are just beginning to ripen. Better late than never, I suppose!
We’ve had to adjust the string holding up the cucumber and tomato plants, to help support the weight of the fruits, and the abundance reinforces the sense of celebration and achievement that growing your own food brings. Our hard work earlier in the year is definitely paying off and I finally understand the real meaning of harvest time. It was never quite communicated properly in primary school: despite the plethora of harvest songs and the piles of tins on yearly display in the assembly hall, it’s definitely not the same as the real thing!
The past few weeks have also proved a challenge in making sure we use up all of the beautiful produce without letting anything go to waste. I think I’ve eaten more courgettes in the last month than I have in the rest of my life so far, but I have enjoyed looking for new ways to cook them. I have developed a new found love of courgette soup and stir-fry: definitely recipes to repeat with next year’s crop! I just need a couple more ideas for beetroot recipes to use the last of them up, and of course need to be ready for all of those tomatoes coming my way soon! Watch this space for bakes, chutneys and salsa…
As crazy as it may seem, I’ve also been busy planting a new crop, which should be ready to eat around October – November time. Don’t worry, I haven’t gone mad. A well-known winter vegetable, turnips are perfect for adding to hearty soups and stews, and are delicious roasted. They are also a hardy plant that can take the bashings of late autumn in England, and should grow into a delicious late crop to enjoy as winter draws in. the first little leaves have already appeared in a neat, though slightly wonky row (very annoying that I didn’t manage get them straight!) and I’m very excited to see how these grow, as I haven’t tried them before. I’m hoping that my by next update, I will have a still wonky but slightly bushier row of healthy young plants to report back on. Look out for my October update to see how they’re doing!
If you missed my last update, here’s an easy link to my August Kitchen Garden Diary update, with some handy courgette recipe ideas if you’ve got a few to use up!