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Autumn glory

September 1st marks the start of meteorological autumn and - if the current predictions come to pass - it's going to be a good one for both harvest and colour. In most areas of the UK, the spring blossom escaped early frost and there was no repeat of 2018's Beast from the East to chill everything down and burn the new leaves off the trees. Rain during early August helped the fruit to swell and sunny spells in both July and late August have ripened it and improved the colour.

Trees need a balance of sunshine and rainfall to produce enough sugars for good autumn colour, coupled with a chilling the previous winter, which helps ripen the wood. So, this is a good time to plan a visit to an arboretum to walk through the glorious colours, indulging in a spot of "forest bathing", taking photos to enlarge for the wall and collecting fallen leaves to press at home with children or grandchildren.

A good harvest means trying to find new ways to preserve the fruit, because there's only so much jam anyone needs! The clever people at Lakeland are always finding new and inventive ways to do this and as well as everything to make jam and preserves (including the electric Jam & Jelly maker above), they also have all sorts of preserving jars for storing fruit in syrup or alcohol or pickling vegetables, air driers (dehydrators) for herbs, fruit jerky, apple crisps and “sun-dried” tomatoes and vacuum sealers for getting more produce into the same space in the freezer.

Some produce, like apples and pears, can be stored in a dark, cool, airy garage or shed. Wrap each fruit in newspaper or similar to protect and isolate it, in case it begins to rot, and check the fruit weekly for any sign of a problem. Take any suspect fruit out immediately and use it.

Vegetables like carrots and potatoes will store outdoors in a “clamp” into the winter: simply clear a small patch of soil and lay out a layer of the vegetables, then cover with soil and repeat. Cover with a final layer of soil and leave them until you need them, when you can take as many as you need and leave the rest. Make sure you use them up before they start to regrow in spring.

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This story was published on: 31/08/2019

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