As autumn moves in, shed lovers up and down the country are looking out across allotments and gardens filled with crops. From pears to potatoes, we’ve received plenty of pictures of brimming baskets full of homegrown goodies.
Mandy Price shared this beautifully colourful crop on our Facebook page, with tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and hues, ranging from a deep purple to a crisp, zesty yellow.
Keen gardener Sue Holmes had plenty of small helping hands as she harvested her spuds, carrots, onions and yet more tomatoes:
Fruit-lover Julie Taylor told us she had a full pear tree, but was unsure when to pick them. Luckily we were able to help, telling her that the fruit would be ready when it’s easy to pull from the tree, and the flesh is springy when squeezed.
Harvesting against hunger
Cultivation bloggers’ harvests are in full swing too, and as with everyone else it’s all about the timing.
Maryline and Peter at Rural and Rustic live on a mid-Wales smallholding, and they’ve been busy around the autumn equinox. They have gathered in a bounty including courgettes, peppers, beans and a whopping 15 kilos of tomatoes, with their apple harvest still to come.
As well as harvesting, they’ve had to figure out what to do with their stores, and Maryline has been busy bottling, freezing and preserving. She’s created traditional chutneys and preserves, as well as creating Mediterranean flavours with ratatouille and passata.
If you’re at a loose end for what to do with your harvest don’t worry, we’ll be suggesting a few old favourite recipes for you to try a bit later.
Timing is everything
Over at Mark’s Veg Plot, Mark has also been making sure he timed his harvest right for his exotic tomates de colgar, which he decided to pick in mid-September as the summer started to fade. These are a Mediterranean tomato, specifically bred to be stored and preserved, so as with many fruit it was important to get to them before the damp weather really dug in.
“With the weather having turned much cooler, and now wet, I judged yesterday that it was time to cut most of those tomatoes and bring them in to ripen indoors.”
Sadly for Fiona at Fiona Grows Food, the sudden start of autumn meant she lost the last of her crops, and her lettuce and rhubarb bolted faster than you can say ‘sugar snap’. She writes:
“My summer crops are completely written off; gone are the days of french beans, spring onions, radishes and rocket. R.I.Peas.”
As we approach harvest time it’s tricky to walk the fine line between not-quite-ready and already-gone, so it’s vital to keep a close eye on your plot. R.I.Peas, indeed.
Something a little different
For those with an interest in the unusual, there’s an exotic crop over at Dogwood Days, where Nic’s fat baby achocha has chosen the autumn season to suddenly sprout.
“Until a couple of weeks ago there wasn’t that much growth and only a few fruit. Some other UK growers seemed to having similar experiences, so I guess the weather might have been to blame. However, my fat babies have been making up for lost time recently and I don’t think I’m going to need to buy green peppers for the foreseeable future.”
Harvest isn’t just about allotments, gardens and farms. Some keen harvesters enjoy a walk on the wild side.
The good news for foraging fiends is that blackberry season is here, as gardener, Katie, at Lavender and Leeks has been finding.
“Everything is a tad early this year and the farm in Wales has plenty of blackberries for picking. I decided to go out exploring with my trug, the plan was to pick some blackberries to take home where I could make some jam…”
As well as blackberries, it’s about the right time of year to be keeping an eye out for nuts in the hedgerows, although as the wet weather arrives it’s also important to make sure they’re left to dry if you plan to squirrel them away.
Fruits of your labour
With all this gleaning and gathering it’s often easy to overlook what to do with the tasty treats that have been collected, so here are a few suggestions for you.
Foodie blogger, Chris, at Thinly Spread has found a way of conserving those two perennial English favourites, apples and blackberries, in a delicious sounding jam. All served up with a dollop of the preserve makers top reggae track – Jamming.
If you’re feeling a little ‘nutty’ and want to eat the fruits of your labour now, cooking blogger Kathy at Gluts and Gluttony has a super-nutty recipe for hedgerow harvest crumble using spelt flour in the crumble. Perfect for anyone who fancies a touch of scrumping and foraging.
Fancy a little tipple to keep you warm in the shed this winter? Foodie photographer Kate from Turquoise Lemons has a great method for turning an ordinary bottle of vodka into and apple and blackberry treat. Her secret? A bit of vanilla for sweetness.
There is plenty still to gather in before the nights draw close, and it’s also time to start thinking about preparation and planting for crops such as broad beans, peas, and even spring onions. Meanwhile, keep sharing pictures and stories of your harvests on Facebook, along with any great recipe ideas you might have.
Lead image: Artem Shadrin