We’re slowly sinking under the weight of produce our gardens are providing, it’s both wonderful & a little daunting. All of a sudden, just as we were sighing with relief to have processed the pears & peaches, peppers etc there is a new & bigger glut, apples, several types, crabapples, chestnuts, walnuts & figs, not to forget the spuds & pumpkins. The chillies we thought had finished with the early frosts, are ripening a whole lot more fruit. The feijoas are just starting to drop too.

One of the things we love about Autumn is the colour. We watched a documentary about Andrew Goldsworthy, who is one of my most favourite artists. Its called ‘Rivers & Tides’ I think, & you can find it on YouTube. We were inspired to have a play in the creek, & pinned some grape leaves together by their stalks. A small start, we have lots of ideas to play with now.

Yikes, the freezer is filling rapidly, our store caravan is full of pumpkins & walnuts, how much can we pickle, bottle & turn into cider in a few weeks? People are starting to avoid meeting our gaze, as we try & persuade them to take a few more chestnuts & maybe some figs too? The thing is when you start out & plant a few trees, it seems impossible that one day they will create more food than you can use, & it feels awful to let it go to waste. The other thing for me, is that I’m part squirrel, so the drive to process & store fruit etc is hard to resist. I’m also a compulsive firewood gatherer, it just feels so secure to have the woodshed full for the Winter.

Have you read that childrens book called ‘Jam” it’s a great story about a family who have a plum tree. when the first plums fall there is much excitement, & the plums are collected & made into jam, by the father. Over a period of time he has made so much plum jam, he’s forced to resort to filling the cups, teapot, eggcups etc with jam. Gradually as the family eats it’s way through the jam, the household crockery comes back into use. The family starts to dream of having other spreads on it’s toast, then there is a thump on the roof, oh no, the next lot of plums is starting to drop!!

Ok now the good news, we’ve processed a big batch of Sweet Chestnuts & put them in the freezer. These are great later on, to use in stuffing for Turkey or Chicken, also with Brussel sprouts, in shortbread & cakes. If you gather Chestnuts & want to keep them a while, put them in a bag in the fridge, as they dry out quite quickly in the house.

For freezing, it’s a simple process, cut the nuts in half, & put into boiling water. When the water starts to boil again, time 7 1/2 minutes, then strain & plunge into iced water to chill. I cooked mine in our pasta pot, & it was easy to drain them & put them into the sink to chill, then drain again. We have 3 different trees, some are like hedgehogs , & one  is not nearly so spiky. I think the spiky ones peel easier than the other ones. Some peel with the help of a little knife, & others we scooped out with teaspoons.

Last year I got as far as storing them in the fridge, in anticipation of cooking them, but never got any further. Some months later, when we cleaned out the fridge, there were a number of nuts that had sprouted, & these have readily grown into small trees, which we have given away!

Geoff’s made a big batch of Green Tomato Pickle, (he mixes several recipes together, & then adds extra spices etc to taste, very good) with the last of the toms outside. I picked a lot of Chillies & made 2 batches of Sweet Chilli Sauce, a Golden Cayennes batch, & a  Reds batch. This keeps well, & we decant a little off at a time into smaller jars for the pantry.

Next on the list is cider, once we sort out some buckets etc. & of course the feijoas. I’m planting some fruit tree seeds now, to leave outside over winter. Some of our friends walnuts, which are later than ours & don’t get frosted. Thanks to their generosity we have a goodly supply of walnuts for the year. Also planted some Black Boy peach stones, & some Apple seeds, we have a tree the other side of the creek, must be a wild one, no-one in their right mind would plant a tree on such a severe bank. We risk life & limb to pick them. & any dropped, roll away & drop off the bank into the creek, or into the blackberries. They remind me of cooking apples we had in England when I was a child, Bramleys maybe? Anyway I’ve put in some seeds, & also taken some cuttings, as we think it’s a tree worth passing on.

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