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In the vegetable garden pumpkin patch
Pumpkins and pizzazz! There's fireworks in the tree tops now the autumn show has begun. So this makes the autumn tasks in the vegetable garden all the more rewarding. What could be nicer than getting things ship-shape at a time when all around is looking so glorious? Your outdoor autumn jobs will be accompanied by gently falling, brilliant foliage which makes this time of year so special. Before tackling the vegetable plot, make sure you have sorted out a compost heap.
How to make a compost bin?
They are so simple to construct with the help of a few pallets or spare pieces of wood. You can nail or screw the pallets together or even secure them with rope or twine.
Your mature compost will enable you to enrich the soil. It can be used as mulch, as a soil conditioner and even as a seed compost when mixed with sand.
What can you harvest in October?
Swede which was sown in May can be lifted and trimmed whilst at its peak. Or you can leave the swede in the ground until mid-winter if you wish. Harvest autumn brassica and of course your amazing apples. Many apples can be stored successfully, depending on the variety. In fact, the flavour of some apples actually improves with age. Late maturing apples such as Granny Smith, Jonagold and Bramley's Seedling store extremely well. Select only the finest apples without blemishes; wrap each individual carefully in paper and store them in crates, kept in a cool, dark place. A shed is ideal, provided you cover the crates with a blanket to keep out the frost. Keep them away from other ripening fruit and even flowers as these give off ethylene gas which will make your apples over-ripen.
asparagus foliage. Leave your asparagus until well into the autumn whilst the stalks return food into the root system. Once the foliage turns yellow or brown you can cut it away close to the soil. Make sure you weed around the asparagus rhizomes thoroughly before mulching with compost.It's also time to cut down
What else can you do at this time of year?
Plant new summer-fruiting raspberries and blackberries, using a system of posts and wire supports. Sow hardy varieties of broad beans in order to achieve a late May harvest. Consider sowing a green manure crop to cover bare ground. Why? It protects open ground and helps to guard against the washing away of nutrients during the winter. It also discourages weeds from taking hold. Eventually the crop will be dug back into the soil, which will add nutrients.
It's pumpkin season
Halloween! We are seeing pumpkins everywhere. But they are not just for making into lanterns. The word pumpkin actually comes from the Greek pepon which means cooked by the sun. Pumpkins are wonderful fruits. They are packed full of vitamins including A, B2, C and E. This means they are good for the heart, for the circulation, for breathing and for the skin. They also contain antioxidants. The enormous, brightly coloured fruits should be picked before the first frosts and the skins of the pumpkin should be allowed to harden in the sun before storing.
Pumpkin and Lentil soup: Fry up some onions, garlic and pumpkin flesh in olive oil. Add fresh thyme, vegetable stock, red lentils and seasoning. Cook, then blend and serve with a swirl of cream or crème fraiche. The pumpkin seeds can even be roasted in oil and sprinkled on the top.
Pumpkin patties: Mash some cooked pumpkin and add some crumbled feta cheese plus a handful of chopped parsley and some toasted pine nuts to the mix. Shape into patties and dust with flour. Chill before frying them in olive oil. Serve with salad.
Pumpkin cobbler: Fry some onions in olive oil. Add pumpkin, carrot, tomatoes, vegetable stock, rosemary and seasoning. Bring to the boil, then transfer to a slow cooker or large cooking pot. Cook slowly for at least three hours. Make cheesy dumplings by rubbing butter, flour and salt together, then mixing in some cheese and rosemary. Stir in enough water to make a smooth dough. Pat the dough into dumplings or roll out and use a mince-pie cutter to make rounds. Put these on top of the stew and cook for a further 30 minutes.