There’s something special about autumn, the time of the year when you wake to crisp, clear mornings, fog sitting in the gullys with autumn leaves filling the trees, their last hurrah before the bitter cold sets in. Autumn for us, is a time of preparation for the months ahead, not only in the garden but also around the house  too.

The first sign of autumn was when all our summer crops finished producing, the corn stalks dried up, the strawberries stop producing and the taste of summer berries is all but a sweet, sweet memory. This signals time to make a start on our winter prep.

This year, Andy got busy and made a door for the cellar that we’ve built under our bedroom. As apart of our renovations, we had a space under our bedroom that was insulated with clinka bricks and hebel, which made it the perfect spot for a cellar. The door is made out of recycled hardwood that was originally the bearers before we started our renos. Our cellar will be what helps us live through seasons in years to come. We have fitted it out with racking and have already started filling it up.

Autumn is one of our favourite times of the year for foraging wild foods. The food that grows on the side of the road and out in the bush, that is often forgotten, that goes unnoticed. We have been keeping our eyes on a number of apple trees, around the area and checking them fortnightly to see if they are ready. There’s nothing quiet like, taking the first bite out of a sweet and juicy roadside apple. Once we know the apples are ripe, we strap the ladder to the roof, put our crates in the back and off we go. This year we have collected apples from half a dozen or more roadside apple trees, each with their own distinct flavour. One of our favourites, a golden delicious, that isn’t too far from home.

These apples have stood the test of time, grown from an apple core thrown out a car window or dropped from a bird. They are organic and pesticide free and most of the time resistant to things that our household varieties fall prey to.

Another of our favourite things to do in early Autumn, is to visit a friend that owns a nut farm, where we pick and squirrel away hazelnuts for the months to come. As autumn descends upon us, so do the chestnuts. These sweet, nutty morsels are delicious when cooked on the fire! Walnuts are also ripe for the picking and we have a few favourite roadside spots that we check on. Andy climbs the trees, to make sure that we haven’t missed any. As vegetarians we eat a lot of nuts in our diets and by foraging and bartering for these nuts, it saves us a lot of money and not to mention, we know where they have come from. No food miles or sprays in sight.

Last but not least, our mushroom foraging missions. As autumn arrives, so does the rain, soaking the pine forest floors and bringing all the fungi to life. We forage for one type of mushroom only, saffron milk caps. You have to have a keen eye to spot them hiding amongst the pine needles, as all the colours blend together. If you’d like to read more about our past foraging missions check out our ‘Fungus Amongus’ post.

We love foraging food, as it connects us with nature, and the seasons. It’s something that we treasure as a family and look forward to on crisp autumn mornings. We look forward to sharing our knowledge with little Murphy.

Our veggie garden & poly tunnel

We have been preserving our tomatoes to ensure that we have enough to get us through the cooler months. With lots still hanging on the bushes, we have a sense of optimism! There is nothing appealing about the watery supermarket variety, so we do our best to preserve the taste of summer. This year we have made passata, pear & eggplant kasundi (using the grown & gathered recipe), and preserved whole tomatoes.

With all of the extra apples & mushrooms that we have foraged, we have dehydrated them, to help them keep. Our dehydrated apples make delicious and nutritious snacks (and teething rusks) whilst the mushrooms can be used in soups in the depths of winter.

In Gippsland, it gets rather cool during the winter months, so it’s really important that we have enough dry wood, close to the house, ready to burn. We rely on our Wood-Fired Hydronic heating for our heating & hot water. To read more about the system we have, pop on over here.

And with winter, comes the Mud! Dirty paws prints and muddy shoes are the bain of our existence in these cooler months. With 2 spoodles, Spencer & Stella, having free reign across our house, the mud seems to get out of control. So we have decided to concrete (part of) our driveway. This is happening this coming week and we are pretty excited to see it finished.

Last but not least, what have we planted for the coming months?

Our weekends throughout Autumn have been spent preparing the soil and making sure that we have crops in for the cooler months. Anzac day weekend was spent planting out our garlic, onions, leeks and lettuces. Other autumn plantings have included brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, beets & broad beans.

Our poly tunnel is still producing lots of produce and we hope that it continues into winter. Last year we had tomatoes right up until mid August; although taking longer to ripen, they were full of flavour!

Keep an eye for our upcoming post on our poly tunnel, as we get a lot of questions about it!
If you have a question, let us know in the comments below!

What can I plant now?

If you live in Gippsland, surrounds or a cool temperate climate, you can plant the following:

Brussel Sprouts  Cauliflower  Leeks Onions Beetroot
Lettuce Kale Cabbage Garlic Carrots
Parsley Oregano Silverbeet  Spinach Snow Peas 

 

Winter doesn’t have to be the ‘hungry season’.
As Andy says, “Don’t forget the 6 P’s; Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!”

I must admit I’m looking forward to winter setting in; sitting in front of the fire in the evenings, the smell of wood fires burning on the dewy air of the mornings. Delicious winter warming soups, curries and cook ups, those heavy, warming foods.

What have you done to prepare for Winter? Don’t be scared, get your woolies on and into the garden to get some seeds planted!

We hope that this has planted some seeds of inspiration into your garden of thoughts.
Be happy, eat raw, eat well and don’t forget to mile!

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