Well, we're heading into winter now. Those nights are getting really long and it's getting colder for sure. Some say winter is a time for slowing down. In some ways that rings true. We're still not able to work on the house, due to ongoing planning issues, so building work is still halted and will remain so until early next year if things drag on (and believe me they they are dragging).
Yet, there is always plenty to do.
Here's a picture of our late blooming butternut squashes. We got 5 squashes from 2 plants - but I was late germinating them, I think I started them off in April.
I've been experimenting with drying the seeds from our pumpkins and squashes. I never factored in the TIME that it takes to 'process' seeds for eating - guess I was too busy planting and tending things to even consider it.
Well, it does take time. Squash seeds are really slimy when first removed, so need washing and drying, but it is worth it, as they taste great and are full of goodness.
With time on my hands I also started shelling the sunflower seeds that I'd collected from my polytunnel giants. Some of the seedheads, even in the tunnel, had got a bit mouldy and some others still had a lot of immature seeds (without a proper seed inside the shell), but we had some really nice ones. I find it quite meditative shelling the seeds - but you really do need to find the time. Would be tricky if we had a tight schedule.
The linseeds were even trickier (no photo - sorry) to shell and a lot of time shelling provided slim results.
The quinoa (pictured below), just needed the seed coating rubbing off. There are a LOT of seeds though.
Now the frosts have come we've been digging up our oca tubers. We haven't tried any yet. I hear they are quite versatile to cook with. We'll let you know how we get on.
I've been trying to dry out of black cherokee trail of tears beans. They're part way dry. I'm not sure how to cook them that way - they're aren't quite fresh or quite dry.
Some of my garlic is emerging. I have them in pots overwinter, so they can get a spell of cold without being in really damp ground, then I'll plant them out in spring.
In the tunnel the salads are doing well. We have a few sneaky slugs and caterpillars but noting too drastic. We did have some pak choi that succumbed to vine weevil (don't know how that got in) but most are fine.
The brussel sprouts are absolutely gorgeous. Just hope we manage to save some for Christmas dinner!
I'm trying some cardboard collars round my brassicas. I have started some cauliflower and broccoli so we get an early crop in the tunnel next year.
It's time now to dig up the sweet potatoes (the leaves that look like ivy in the picture). We'll get a few - but we won't be quite self sufficient in them yet ... unless I get a few more polytunnels ;-)
Growing my own has been an eye opener in many ways. I don't mind that I get small yields (as I plant small amounts). In a way I appreciate things more when they are seasonal. Quality not quantity is ok. There is a buzz out of picking a few choice blueberries from the bush that outweighs buying an expensive punnet of them from the supermarket.
That where we're lucky to have the best of both worlds - growing our own as best we can and then supplementing it with veggies from elsewhere when we need to. It can be tricky though these days - do you prioritize local or organic? It can be quite a brain teaser that one, enough to tempt me to stick more closely to seasonal produce that can more easily be both. Yet, they say variety is the spice of life and to eat a varied diet. What do you think?
I must admit that I do hanker after being relatively self sufficient even though I know its a pipe dream (as somewhere along the line it could take too much work and time and thus become less fun) . I joke to Sam that I'll put an acre to goji berries and turn the really damp patch into a paddy field for rice. Thing is , I'm only half joking.
I guess it's good to have a dream, even a pipe dream. Whatever I end up doing in 'the field', I know I'll have fun trying. To me thats the key. Fingers crossed that we'll get to have fun building our house again soon (all positive thoughts, vibes and prayers for us being able to get our planning finally sorted and our build back on track are very greatly appreciated).
I'll sign off with a picture of our nasturtiums (interspersed with a few leeks) appreciating the shelter of the polytunnel.