There's plenty to write about at this time of year. If I'm totally honest, I think it's my favourite month. A month to recover from the summer sun, the children's school holidays, to set new routines and to reap the benefits of long hours in the garden. At last, the weeds begin to ease their attack on the summer flower and vegetable borders and the harvest is abundant!
Hedgerows have provided us with ample fruit for jams and jellies, and late maturing tomatoes and sun ripened pumpkins and squashes provide good reason to get pickling and storing the incessant harvest.
Life at The Pumpkin Patch is good and busy, long days of clearing away and preparing for the winter ahead, almost as though a huge storm is imminent! It's great fun to sow seed, to water and weed, to reap the rewards the garden has to offer, but the task of finally putting the garden into near hibernation for a few months is joy indeed! It's like a happy and great ending to a good book.
At my home, Allt-y-Gôg Farm, a sign that autumn is finally upon us is the chattering and farewell of our resident swallows and the thick cold mists that greet us each morning. It's bye bye swallows, hello autumn! Though this year, despite the thick early morning fogs in the Towy valley, we have enjoyed the hottest autumnal afternoons I can remember. A great opportunity to prolong our summer habits and to paint fences, tend to the borders and to simply sit out in the garden 'till the sun goes down. Soon the sun's heat will disappear, the autumn equinox last month marked an important change. Now the sun is rising later and nightfall comes sooner, our days in the northern hemisphere are getting shorter. I always try to get and about in the garden for as long as I can in October, especially making the most of an Indian summer.
Following the relaxed summer months, the autumn forces the pace a little! The need to use, preserve and appreciate the seasonal produce, to make jams and jellies, chutneys and preserves - the pressure is on!! It's part of my annual ritual, making jams goes hand in hand with dusting off the winter boots and searching for the winter jumpers and cardies!
The pumpkins are my favourite in the garden, hence the name 'The Pumpkin Patch'. Their bright orange, cream and mottled green colours revealed themselves a few weeks back, as the foliage started to die back. They are now in full glory, like jewels in the garden, hardly surprising that they feature so highly this time of year and later on at Halloween. Whether or not one supports Halloween, one has to recognise the beauty of the pumpkin. Christmas trees and baubles brighten up the deep winter months, but the cheerful pumpkins sure do brighten up a dull Autumn day.
At our regular classes at ‘The Pumpkin Patch’ we are spoilt for choice. Bramble jelly, pumpkin soup, or another favourite of mine ... stinger soup (using a bucket full of stinging nettles - a great detox!), bean and potato salad to use up the enormous amount of French purple beans we have, or apple and plum tarts and puddings. I could go on and on….this is why I love October.
This weeks recipe is so simple ant yet so tasty. It’s a great way to use up leftovers from a Sunday roast, or last nights supper. Combine any green vegetables, runner beans, French beans, broad beans, peas and even sweetheart cabbage, fried in a little garlic, with any leftover potatoes. You can make more of a meal of it, by adding bacon pieces or chorizo sausage, and if you really want to, break a few eggs over the entire mixture (in the frying pan) and make a frittata! That’s almost three meals from one recipe! Serve with some home made chutney and fresh crusty bread. Yum!
Warm Salad Potato and Green Bean Salad
4 Pembrokeshire potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled or leftover boiled potatoes
1 cup green beans (I like French beans) - top and tailed
1 cup garden peas
1 cup broad beans
1 red pepper sliced
1 tablespoon, butter
1 clove garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Optional: Bacon pieces, chorizo sausage
- Place a little oil and butter in a large frying pan
- Fry the green beans to soften (add the bacon or chorizo sausage if using)
- Add a clove of crushed garlic and a little more butter.
- Add the garden peas ( frozen is fine!) the broad beans and the peppers and fry over a low heat until softened.
- Mix in the diced boiled potato and warm through.
- Season with salt and plenty of pepper.