To everything - turn, turn, turn There is a season - turn, turn, turn And a time to every purpose under heaven A time to be born, a time to die A time to plant, a time to reap A time to kill, a time to heal A time to laugh, a time to weep

My plot neighbour, Peter, is a whistler. He happily whistles away on his plot with whatever tune he has recently heard. Last week he was whistling away to every season there is a reason. It took us a while to recognise the tune but we got there. The song was written by the great Pete Seeger from a biblical reference and became a big hit for the Byrds in the mid sixties.

I always think September is the start of the gardening year. The first sign is when the onion sets for autumn planting are in the shop (the EAGS shop has some varieties available for sale with more coming this week). The onions are followed by garlic, the seed catalogues, shallots, then potatoes in the New Year. Turn, turn, turn indeed.

September is also of course harvest time. This year has seemed to provide some bumper crops.

Two which I bought home from the plot today are apples and shallots.

The apples are from two dwarf stepover trees I planted about 5 years ago. They have done reasonably well each year providing around 30 apples each plant, but this year it’s been 100 apples each plant – 4 buckets full. I’ve picked them maybe a day or three early because I want to avoid any stray hands picking them.

The varieties are Sunset, a seedling of Cox’s Pippin, and Topaz, a disease resistant variety which originated from the Czech Republic. About half I’ll give away, and half I’ve wrapped individually in newspaper and stored in greengrocers trays. I’ll see how they keep.

The shallot variety is hative de niort. I planted 10 bulbs and harvested a bucket full of large shallots. Normally I have found that shallots are small and fiddly and not really worth the fuss, but these seem more of a workable size. I’ll keep 10 bulbs back to plant next year.

This is also the season of ratatouille. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, and aubergines are all available from my plot so it’s a cook-up once a week at present. Over the years I’ve tried many ways off cooking ratatouille. Either cutting the vegetable small, or in large chunks, cooking each individually before assembling, or cooking one on top of the other - I’ve tried them all. But I’ve now settled on giving them a start on the gas ring in the le creuset and then cooking it very slowly for 2-3 hours in the oven at around 130 degrees. It’s supposed to last the week but normally goes within a couple of days.

I hadn’t sown any seeds for a few weeks and was getting withdrawal symptoms. So I sowed some Winter Density Lettuce, 60 day small broccoli, pak choi, and a pot of coriander. All nicely snug in the polytunnel – I’ll see how they go.

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