It's the time of year when squirrels are hoarding nuts, when jays are burying acorns, and when I gather up the harvest. There's something instinctive about hoarding food before the harsh winter arrives. It sits deep in the psyche.
I have a book by Victor Osborne, called 'Digger's Diary', about a year in the life of an allotment-holder. Osborne frequently refers to his ‘Inner Saxon Peasant' or ISP. The Inner Saxon Peasant is the one which burst forth when I see the potatoes being ravaged by blight, when the pigeons take out the tops of the newly planted cabbages, when the carrot root fly reduces the carrot harvest to a 3D maze of holes. We’re lucky to be in the position of having our allotment as a hobby. We won’t starve if the caterpillars eat our kale. But the Inner Saxon Peasant fears the beasts that eat its produce.
And so it is good to appease the Inner Saxon Peasant and lay down a good store. Despite the wet summer here, it wasn’t warm enough for blight to strike, so this year, thankfully, I wasn’t digging up putrid potato tubers. We do have some wireworm damage but I’m not sure how extensive it is.
The ISP is particularly pleased with my attempts at preserving. I’ve made jam before but never so extensively, and I’ve supplemented the jam with mincemeat, fruit cordial and chutney.
But the real success which means that my ISP is happy to move towards the long days of winter is the food that stores itself. The pumpkins and squashes have been making a bid to take over the whole allotment site over the past couple of months, but they have provided us with food in handy hard cases. The ‘Crown Prince’ squashes should last until early spring.