Slow Living Guide to Autumn-Seasonal Food & Gardening
Autumn is folding in around us and all the symptoms of colder temperatures are showing. Leaves are crisp and brown, the garden is starting to slip into a tired sleep and in general most things are retracting back inwards. Ready for a long sleep until the warmth arrives back.
Living on the farm I cant escape any of this seasonal change, I am very much a part of it all and much at its mercy. A windy day means relinquishing any hope of wifi and wrapping up in many layers, staking the doors of the polytunnel and recusing the bent over seed heads in the garden. However autumn is turning out to be a favourite of mine this year. It has none of the ferociousness of a Northern winter and still some of the fruitfulness of summer but perhaps its slower pace suits me quieter nature…
The kitchen is an exciting place to be in autumn-there’s always tons to be pickled, preserved, fermented. There’s still an abundance of fresh veg to cook with and a good variety too. I still haven’t forgotten that point in late winter and early spring where the garden provides so little variety and the relief in saying goodbye to winter cabbage and roots!
If, like me, you love to eat seasonally then keep an eye out for the following autumnal produce:
Here are some of my favourite recipes for autumn.
Stuffed pumpkin-with cream and mushrooms
Crab apple jelly
Fried puffball mushroom
Pumpkin and apple soup
Stews with dumplings
Roast beetroot and kohlrabi
Spiced red cabbage
Homemade Baked beans
Although the garden is starting to slow down and get ready for a dormant winter it’s well worth getting out and doing as much gardening as you can muster enthusiasm for. It will pay off in dividends come spring.
I have a whole list of autumnal gardening jobs over here but my must dos at this time of year are;
Bulbs. Although budget is an issue for me this year, if I were feeling richer I would be going on a spending spree with bulbs. Everything from narcissi to alliums this is the time of year to ensure that spring brings with it beautiful blooms! Tulips are always worth will planting too but best left until late autumn. If your garden is too small for bulbs then bring them indoors and force hyacinths, paperwhites and amaryllis for gorgeous indoor flowers come winter.
Another great autumnal task for the garden is to collect seeds from your plants. Honesty, nasturtiums…it’s pretty easy to collect seed just wait until the seed pods are very dry and gently shake or collect. Remember to store your seeds in labeled envelopes and somewhere dry.
Making leaf mould is a brilliant autumnal activity-I’ve talked about it over on Vanessa Feltz show this week. You can check it out here(its about 30mins in).
Finally autumn is the perfect time to take a good look at your garden and plant shrubs, roses and other larger plants. Bare rooted plants are great to plant in late autumn and are often much cheaper too!
Although the shorter and colder days of autumn may be ideal for pumpkin spiced lattes and log fires, nature has plenty to see, so get wrapped up and hit your favourite nature walk to see what you can find!
I have a free seasonal treasure hunt print out on my blog which you can bring with you but here are some things to look out for regardless;
Redwings these declining birds arrive in the UK and Ireland in the autumn and can be identified by its splash of red plumage below it’s wing.
Flocking Birds– Autumn is a busy time for birds. Some are leaving for the winter while others such as Geese should be arriving in droves to Ireland, North West England and Wales during autumn from their summer in Artic Canada.
Hedgehogs will be feeding a lot in the run up to winter so leave out food, water and make sure you have an undisturbed area for hibernation, piles of leaves and logs are perfect. Unfortunately it’s not unusual to see young hedgehogs at this time of year, these are the product of a later litter and can struggle to make it through the long winter as their body fat can be lower. This is why having a place for your garden hedgehogs to hibernate and feed is really essential!
spider webs, the cooler mornings bring spiderwebs to life! While Im not a fan of siders I can truly appreciate their beautiful webs. A true work of art!
rutting deer-A classic autumnal site, male deer locking heads is a sign of the mating season as they compete for females.
Squirrels, Keep eyes peeled for squirrels, especially the red squirrel as they become quite brazen in their hunt for pre-winter food.
Have a beautiful autumn!