Autumn Garden Update
It’s that time of year again for the quarterly garden update, which I wanted to fit in before all the colourful leaves blow off the trees and everything starts to look more wintry and stark. We completed the majority of the apple picking (see here for previous years) earlier in September, some of which we turned into cider, and 400 kilos of which was sent to Day’s Cottage to be pressed into juice. The varieties we will be juicing this year include Egremont Russet, Bramley, Golden Delicious, Charles Ross and Ashmead Kernel. Due to the fantastically hot summer the apple harvest this year was spectacular, as were the pears. Emily included a few quinces in some of the blends to be pressed into juice, to tone down the natural sweetness of the varieties such as Egremont. If you drop by the mill you may find a few bottles at reception should you wish to try it!
Above, windfall apples
Recently we’ve been harvesting the quinces, and making it into membrillo – let me know if this is a recipe you’d be interested in me writing up for the blog, as it is delicious with cheese (particularly manchego), and makes a lovely alternative to pudding after dinner on these autumn and winter evenings. There’s something about the sweetness of the membrillo that works wonderfully with the savoury saltiness of cheese.
Above, the quince tree by the river, and quinces on the sluice gates
In other news, the garden (and Debbie!) have been facing a bit of a challenge in the form of a deer, which has started to eat all the lettuces, plus the tops off the beetroots, pulling them out of the earth and then leaving them abandoned in a huge earthy mess. It has been spotted a few times, and clearly knows it’s way around the vegetable patch now, much to our dismay! The beetroot and chickpeas are coming to an end at the moment, but the winter greens such as cavolo nero, kale and curly kale are thriving. There are also still lettuces such as cos and butterhead, rainbow and rhubarb chard and spinach for fresh greens with dinner, and carrots, turnips, leeks and parsnips, ideal for roast lunches on Sundays. Debbie is also cultivating young rocket, broccoli and brussel sprouts. The blueberry bushes have also turned the most incredible autumnal shade of red.
The blueberry bushes
In the dry store, we have potatoes (Duke of York variety), beetroot (chioggia), onions (both red and white), and elephant garlic, as well as pumpkin and squashes, to preserve them and eke out the supplies for some variety when the weather gets colder. Debbie has grown some stunning squashes, including patty pan and red kuri. These have made beautiful autumn displays around the garden with their bright shades of orange, and will be perfect for Halloween…
In the greenhouse, we have the very last of the tomatoes, along with the rather adorable cucumelons, lots of hot chillies, and some of the apples that have been leftover in dry storage. In the herb patch, Emily has decided to focus more on the culinary and tea herbs and less on the cut flowers going forwards, and we are providing Star Anise cafe in Stroud with some of our herbs. The basil, parsley, coriander (the slugs’ favourite), sage, tarragon, lemongrass, turmeric and dill have all grown beautifully this year, and provide a wealth of flavouring for all sorts of different recipes from around the world.
Emily has continued to cultivate her herbs to be dried for teas, and she currently is growing calendula, camomile, ecinacea, skullcap, mugwort, lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemongrass, valerian and six varieties of fresh mint. Some of these go to local tea companies, and the rest continue to grow, ready for a cup of fresh mint or lemon verbena tea straight from the garden, to finish off the day.
Excitingly for us, the almond tree yielded a small crop of nuts, as did our walnut tree this year. I’m thinking of writing a recipe spicing and candying the walnuts for a salad made with the butterhead lettuce, and topped with blue cheese dressing. I was also delighted to find we’re still getting a few alpine strawberries despite it being the end of October, which Debbie found me devouring so sadly I couldn’t blame the deer for their disappearance.
The first frosts have arrived and the temperature has dropped considerably over the course of just a few days, with Halloween and November just around the corner. Summer has definitely departed the Mill, and the warm coats and scarfs are being brought out of retirement for the months ahead. The garden is a magnificent riot of autumn colours and foliage, and with some glorious autumn sunshine and beautiful produce, it’s hard to be sad about the change in the seasons – the smell of woodsmoke from the fire, crisp autumn air, crunchy swathes of glittering frost and bundles of delicious produce from the garden mean that we’re welcoming in autumn wholeheartedly!
Until next time Xx