Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Autumn at The Pumpkin Patch Cookery & Gardening School

Autumn at The Pumpkin Patch Cookery & Gardening School

When summer finally draws to a close my mind turns rapidly to the season that lies ahead. Even as I sat soaking up the late summer rays on our recent holiday, I imagined and dreamed of the misty mornings and the cool autumn sun that would soon be with us.

Summer at The Pumpkin Patch is fun, full of activity, and organized chaos with a definite lack of routine! I, however, thrive on routine and, as lovely and relaxed the summer months become, I craved the return of the comforting and familiar routines that have enabled me to keep some order and control whilst raising our five children! September, and the beginning of the autumn school term, marks the return to this order ... and I can breath a sigh of relief!!!

In The Garden

As a gardener, of course, these first few weeks of autumn bring the rewards of the long hot days digging and weeding, sowing and thinning out, potting-on and watering. The September garden can be a sorry sight, but it does still reward the faithful gardener with baskets full of summer flavours.

The beans wrap themselves tightly around their canes until the bitter end, producing and providing us with more than ample beans to feed a large family and provide us with pickles and chutneys with which to fill our kitchen shelves.

The pumpkin plants that I so carefully potted-on and planted out in May have now twisted and tangled themselves wonderfully around the garden, up canes, through the corn, winding on their way and exposing large “Atlantic Giants” – far too large to carry. Far more user-friendly are the small but attractive “Turk's Turban” and the ornamental gourds that I've always loved so much.

It's this infatuation with the cucurbits (the pumpkin family – including the cucumber – hence the name) that christened the Pumpkin Patch. A wonderful fruit, so overlooked by us, but so appreciated by our American cousins, can be used in so many sweet and savoury dishes. The big friendly pumpkin – now a symbol of The Pumpkin Patch - reminds me daily of the delights of growing my own veg, reaping the rewards and of cooking with my own produce.

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