Get Creative in the Kitchen with Pumpkins
As autumn approaches its November crescendo, most deciduous leaves have so far remained surprisingly green and firmly attached to their trees. It remains to be seen whether we will be treated to a particularly colourful leaf show this year. This happens as the amount of sunlight diminishes and the production of the green chlorophyll pigment slows, revealing more of the other yellow and orange pigments that are perhaps surprisingly present all the time.
With Halloween having passed once more, our glut of harvested pumpkins invites forth those among us, enthusiastic to experiment with pies, soups, risottos and anything else you can think of to cook up with those not already spookily hollowed out for candles to illuminate. Art, who cares for the vegetables alongside everybody else here at the garden, tells me that after they're picked we take care to cure them for a couple of weeks in the light and warmth of our polytunnels. There, the sugars metabolise to make them sweeter and their skins harden off so they last longer in storage right through to early spring. It's important to remember to leave the stalks on, as that's where they rot from otherwise. We've also got a great crop of butternut squash that we've grown through weed proof fabric in one of the compost heaps, in order that their growth has benefited from all the heat generated throughout the summer.
Where the pumpkin plants were cleared we've built a large sculptural bonfire heap from all the scrap wood around the garden. The burning of which, usually around the fifth of November, in turn enriches the soil for the next year's nutrient hungry crop.
We're also trialling two new no-dig beds which we've layered with cardboard underneath a covering of horse manure and a topping of clean compost. We'll be sowing some over-wintered Broad Beans and some Fava beans in them, so watch this space to see how they do.
Elsewhere, our leeks are almost ready to begin cropping and should last the winter if we go easy. The brassica cage is full of Purple Sprouting Broccoli, which should be ready by the spring. The rhubarb crowns have been cleaned up and the soil in between dressed with manure. We've taken out and split our Artichoke plants to stimulate new growth and ultimately produce more fruit. Our Florence Fennel, the bulb type, Pak Choi and Celeriac are all about ready to pick and be enjoyed. Our raspberry canes have been cleaned up properly right back to only the newest growth and tied in well. It will be particularly interesting to see how our Oca tubers cook-up as mash, once the beautiful top growth foliage dies back and we lift them. And of course, our trusty Dahlias are flowering gloriously as persistently and late as ever.
All in all, it's been a most productive, rewarding and satisfying growing year. We hope it has been for you too.