Generally in Finland, October is the month that has the highest average rainfall and this year I have really noticed it. Perhaps it is because I have more time on my hands now the children are grown up, or because I simply take more time to reflect on the changes to the seasons as I go abouts my daily work, but this year I feel I'm just more in tune with the nature around me. I observe the seasons changing, and how sunlight patterns change as the autumn approaches. As soon as the sun is shining, I dash out into the gardens to take pictures. Looking at them, it does seem as if I lived in a place of eternal sunshine, but that is far from reality. Still, it does make for a nice Instagram feed.
I have a thing for purple vegetables. I just love the colour! I don't know if it is true that they are healthier due to a higher level of antioxidants, but I feel it is. Beetroots are a favourite of mine, although finding new and interesting recipes is a bit of a problem. They are so distinct in taste that often I find they overshadow anything else when combined in food dishes with other flavours. That's why we often eat them simply oven roasted with grated parmesan cheese as a side dish. It always works.
This year I have also grown the carrot Purple dragon, which is so interesting as the center of it is white while the outer part is a magically purple colour. It has a supple taste, a bit milder than yellow or orange varieties. Once again I have grown my long term favourite purple bean "Blauhilde". It is such a prolific cropper that I have given up growing it in rows, and instead let it climb up thin, square metal obelisks. This allows me to pick the beans from all sides, and with only six plants per rack it allows for air to pass through so I don't get a problem with mildew while still getting enough beans to feed the whole family all season long.
The brassica bed has been amazing this year! I continue to pick broccoli and cauliflower, and now towards the end of the season the Brussel sprouts are thriving. I often pick broccoli's straight into the pot, whereas the Brussel sprouts need trimming and go quite unceremoniously into a plastic bucket. I give the rest of the plant to the chickens, once I see there will be no more florets, as my girlies just love brassica leaves! During August I had a constant battle with hungry caterpillars, but now the nights are colder and ever few days brings torrential downpours I find there are much less of those pesky beasts. Still, I hope we get to enjoy a long mild autumn as there is so much to eat in the garden and it always tastes so much better going straight from plant to table than if harvested and kept in cold storage.
I do somehow almost perversely enjoy the messiness of the autumn gardens. During summer I weed and weed, and weed, to keep order and allow for growth in my favoured plants instead of letting weeds gobble up space and nutrients, but now I just let it all go. In a months time I will clear all the beds anyway, and there is no point making twice the workload for myself. Autumn is a time when there are so many other things to do - like mushroom picking, making jams and marmalades and drying herbs - that I prioritise over having a pristine garden. I feel good about it too, this letting things be and taking time to slowly potter about completing one task at a time. I like the stillness and slowness. It feels like harmony.