All his hard work is bearing fruit as John Stoa gathers in his crops. His harvest is a good one.
This is a very busy time as we harvest, dry off, clean and store produce. My first variety of apple, the Oslin, was picked and used at the end of August. Dessert apples Discovery, Fiesta and Red Falstaff are now all in store.
We are using the Discovery and will soon turn our attention to the Red Devils. Our Bramleys, huge cooking apples, have given us heavy crops that store well into March.
With more apples than we can use, I collected 30 lbs of good windfalls, smaller fruit and blemished apples to put to immediate good use – the basis of a three-gallon batch of Sauternes-type wine. This is what makes the hard graft very worthwhile.
Other Bramleys going into storage are sorted into boxes and kept in my cold garage. I inspect them regularly and if any show signs of brown rot I remove them immediately. Many of these specimens will finish up in crumbles, stewed fruit, pies, stir-fries, curries, apple jelly and sauces.
The gardener doesn’t have a bad life!
Potatoes are being lifted, dried out for a couple of hours in the sun then stored in my garage. The onions have now all been dried out, cleaned up and put into cool storage where they will keep till the end of next spring.
Swiss chard always looks brilliant in such a wide range of bright colours and it’s a very healthy plant to eat. It’s having a good year, as is beetroot, which we use constantly in soups and numerous other recipes. In our milder winters they store perfectly in the ground, and if any frost threatens I earth up the rows to protect them.
Pumpkins are always harvested towards the end of October to let them ripen up in the autumn sunshine. They do make a terrific soup, and there’s plenty of flesh left for freezing for later use.
There are still many vegetables, including salads, growing slowly to take us into the winter with fresh healthy greens. Cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts have been excellent, though losses from clubroot and attacks from caterpillars and cabbage rootfly have been very serious.
Fortunately, leeks do not seem to have any pest or disease problems and it has been an excellent year to grow huge swedes, so we should be OK for healthy living if the snow arrives early. If it gets too cold, I may just open up a bottle of my apple/Sauternes wine to cheer us up!