I may be missing dusk gardening. and all those summery meals outside, but my fig glut is reminding me that there are Autumnal consolations. There are squash in beautiful silvery blues and vivid oranges to harvest, root veg to use in warming stews and of course the cosiness of the woodburner to lure me in from the garden.
Which brings me to the woodshed. Cold Comfort Farm may be one of my favourite books, but I hadn’t seen myself in the role of Aunt Ada Doom until recently. “There’s something nasty in the woodshed” definitely sprang to mind after an afternoon of glitter, missing marrows and two girls playing in our garden though.
I did notice that Ruby and her friend seemed to be spending more time in the extra woodshed (the old pigsty is now a makeshift place to store more wood) than the tree-house, but as they seemed happy making up their own games, I thought nothing of it. Until we noticed just in time that a toddler brother who arrived later had picked up a large rotten marrow and was about to take a bite. I felt terrible that we had rotten marrows lurking and couldn’t work out how it had got within toddler reach. Although marrows are still taking me by surprise, they’re generally still growing, apart from a few rotten ones that I’d put in the wheelbarrow ready for the compost heap.
Then I noticed some telltale glitter. Pink glitter. And I remembered Ruby’s penchant for stinky potions. It didn’t take Inspector Montalbano (who would no doubt have some delicious ideas for eating my squash) to guess who’d transplanted the marrow.
I have plans of my own, involving roasting, garlic, chilli, pasta, risottos and soups, for these more attractive squash.
Clearing and harvesting is making me think about successes and failures in the garden this year and already putting ideas in my head for next year. The Mother Hubbard squash (those silvery green and blue hued monsters) were definitely easy peasy to grow for such bounty. They grew so quickly and had so many huge squash on each plant, I just hope they’re as tasty as butternut squash, which I’ve previously struggled to grow up our hill. Apparently they store well, for up to 5 months – will report back on this.
I’ll also grow parsnips in a block with cornflowers or nigella again. I just mixed the seeds together and scattered over a bed, then planted beetroot around the edge. They all grew happily together, the cornflowers looked very pretty while the parsnips grew slowly. The cornflowers finished flowering a while ago but we’re now looking forward to eating the parsnips during the Autumn winter.
I tried the same method with Swede but, although the Swede grew well (we’ve started eating them) the flowers didn’t grow, maybe the Swede established quicker and the large leaves didn’t give them the flowers chance. So maybe flowers around the edge for Swede next time. Or more rainbow chard, which grows easily, looks vibrant and provides me with something to cook for ages.
You can see from this view of our back garden that lots of things have finished flowering, have been cleared or are past their best and should’ve been cleared! Very grateful to the ever-cheery calendula, long-lasting cosmos and magenta coloured malva for some colour.
Also grateful for the very useful parsley hedge and a bonus late crop of broad beans. Although most have been cleared (I’ve planted chop suey greens for Autumn colour and eating and have over-wintering red onions and garlic to plant in some of the empty areas as well as in the patch soon to be completely vacated by squash) a few of the broad beans that I cut down are still providing me with a very late crop of surprisingly tender little beans.
Away from my garden ramblings (which I’d like to link with Lizzie Moult’s lovely Garden Share Collective) and back to my fig bread, it’s the perfect energy giving snack for a gardener’s coffee break. Great for a weekend breakfast too though, which is what I’m planning and it uses gluts from the garden plus walnuts from a walk. I have to admit to trying fig and cobnut bread first, thinking it would be a tasty combination. The cobnuts somehow gave my bread a bitter taste, would be interested to know if anyone has ideas why.
Have just been reading how figs are really high in iron, potassium, calcium and zinc, and decided this definitely makes my bread feel healthy.
I used the recipe here from my food hero, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall but substituted fresh figs for the dried ones. I also substituted a few tablespoons of the white bread flour for spelt flour for extra flavour.
It’s lovely with honey – we just tried it with the precious jar produced by the bees of Ruby’s great friend Grace’s Grandad, I wrote about his bees here. I’m also planning to try this figgy bread later with red wine and blue cheese and am looking forward to it toasted with honey and eaten with coffee in the morning.
Love this glimpse into your part of the world, thank you for sharing.
Thanks for visiting Lizzie & I’m loving seeing what’s going on in your part of the world too!
What a fantastic squash harvest you have – I’ll be looking out for your squash recipes over the next few weeks… I smiled at your Montalbano reference as I’m catching up on your blog while watching the young Montalbano!
Looking forward to lots of pumpkin pies, thai curries with squash etc. I love the Young Montalbano, it’s my Saturday night treat. Always aim to eat and drink something Italian to go with it too.
Andrea, what a glorious post! Love the squash – hope they taste as good as they look. And had to laugh at little people being so creative with your rotting fruit.. 😉
The full garden shots are a joy – thank you for sharing them with us. We’re big HFW fans here too!
Thanks lots Celia & I hope those squash taste good too!
I love the idea of glittery marrows! it sounds like Ruby is making good use of the woodshed.
I’m looking forward to seeing what you conjure up with all of those squashes and the fig bread looks delicious.
There won’t be much room for glittery marrows in that woodshed soon – Guy has just tidied up lots of Oak and Ash today and it’ll be a much needed addition to our fuel store.
Wow, you are still getting an amazing harvest!
I’m hoping we’ll have quite a bit to harvest through a lot of the winter this year too, with root veg and brassicas plentiful.
What a glorious glimpse into your garden world, just as we’re moving into the warmth, yours is leaving. The squash (or pumpkin as we know them as in Australia) look great, I’m jealous. Mine have never grown terribly well and the ones I did harvest last year were a bit bland. As fir the rotten squash and glitter, I have two little girls who would have been right into that glorious mix – yuck!
I know, yuck, hope there aren’t any disgusting glittery marrows lurking in corners I’ve missed! Look forward to experimenting with the squash/pumpkins.
Your figgy bread really does sound delicious, and with wine and blue cheese.. sublime!
It does go with wine and cheese but, having scoffed both, my favourite is toasted with thick honey, yum!
that bread looks really good, I love figs and can’t wait to start having my own crops but I am sure it will be still a few years before I expect any yields. You have a great haul of squash – how do you cook them or what do you make with them. I have never really give the squash family a go. Though I do like butternut squash.
I like butternut squash too and have grown these as alternatives as they’re meant to taste similarly but grow a lot faster – I’ve had rubbish harvests of butternuts when I’ve tried to grow them here, I think we have too short a season for them up our Cotswolds hill. Roasted the uchiki kuri so far with garlic, rosemary & olive oil, going to put some diced into a garden minestrone and planning a pasta bake next. Will keep you posted!
What a beautiful garden and I love the idea of cornflowers in with the parsnips
You have a very impressive squash harvest. I’m envious. I love growing squash and pumpkins but mine have struggled this year and, with the exception of two Anna Swartz Hubbards, haven’t been particularly successful.
My Little Mudlet would definitely have been joining in with the glitter marrow fun had she been around at the time
Thank you! The garden is definitely very messy at the moment but I can definitely live with that when there’s plenty to eat and still quite a lot of colour. I’ve had rubbish squash harvests the last two years too so going to enjoy this one!
Very envious of your squash as mine came to nothing this year. What a good idea to sow parsnips with nigella and cornflowers. I don’t have a lot of success with parsnips but would like to try it with something else. I wonder if it would work with beetroot. I love the idea of a pretty vegetable garden. I’ve never had glittery rotting marrows in the woodshed; we have four footed nasties in ours. One of my favourite books – we even had a counting once, which rather puts me in Ada Doom role too!
Great idea to try cornflowers with the beetroots too, I bet that would look pretty – think I might give it a go next year. And I think I need to re-read Cold Comfort Farm very soon.
Your garden is beautiful. Bread sounds great too.
Thank you, it’s lovely to see that other people see the beauty in a scruffy garden too!
I love a veg patch that is both productive as well as pretty, and yours really is just gorgeous!
Thanks lots Lisa. We only made those beds at the back this year as our 3 pigs cleared that area for us last year – that’s my excuse for scruffiness! There’s still lots I want to do but we’re eating well from our garden and enjoying playing in it very much.
I love your squashes, I miss not having a harvest this year. lso love your wonderful garden, just so inviting and still looking really pretty. Your bread must have tasted great and is calling some good blue cheese to go with it!
Thanks Laura. I’m still optimistic after last weekend was so lovely, that we might have a few more weekends to enjoy being outside lots in the garden.
Pingback: » Sunday round-up – 13 October 2013 Crumbs and Petals