Welcome to English-Cottage-Lifestyle.com monthly E-zine…Inspiration and ideas to help you discover and enjoy the English Cottage Lifestyle.

Poem/Quote Of The Month…

‘To Autumn’


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And to fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells,

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o‘erbrimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,

Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats

In This Issue:
  • Harvesting Vegetables and Preserving Vegetables
  • Saving Vegetable Seeds
  • Cottage Garden October Calendar
  • Recipe Of The Month: Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding

Preserving Vegetables and
Saving Vegetable Seeds

Harvesting Vegetables

October is the beginning of autumn the cottage garden produce has grown from the seed sown at the beginning of the year and is now ready the end of the year harvest. The vegetables in your cottage garden will have been harvested from summer onwards ready for eating as you needed them, as winter approaches you will need to think about preserving your vegetables.

The cottager of old practiced successional sowing; short rows of vegetables were sown every few weeks, to help keep the glut down this method works well for earlier vegetables such as peas and beans which could then be dried or salted to preserve them over winter. Nowadays we simply freeze them, all though nothing tastes as good as a vegetable in season. Autumn is the time of year for root vegetables to be the main crop and they need to be preserved in a different way.

When you are preserving make sure you harvest vegetables when they are in their prime. Do not preserve any vegetables when they are damaged. Perishable crops can be chilled until you can process them, this is a good idea for berries and fruit. Only wash vegetables right before you need to preserve them.

Preserving Vegetables

As root crops have a much longer season, how you preserve them will depend on where you live. In dryer areas your vegetables can be left in the ground until needed. If you live in an area where it is cold and wet you may need to store them in a dry place. Root crops will shrivel if kept in a warm, dry place. Store them in a cool spot, a shed is perfect.

Drying Vegetables: For drying vegetables, tomatoes, apples, and mushrooms read English Cottage Lifestyle E-zine #004. For drying onions slice them and put them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then dry on a baking tray.

Dry: Onions, tomatoes and vegetable fruits, pea pods and beans.

Storing Vegetables:

Potatoes: Lift after first frost and let sun dry for a few hours before storing this will harden the skins. Store in burlap, hessian or paper sacks in a dark place, light will ruin them. You can also store them in dry sand or boxes but never in plastic as they will rot. Check your potatoes regularly and remove rotting ones.

Carrots: Store in layers of damp sand after removing the leaves and any loose soil in a dark place.

Onions: Sun dry, for a few hours and then store until the skins become papery. Hang up with string.

Store: Root vegetables, onions.

Freezing : Blanch vegetables before freezing to kill bacteria straight after picking, cool in ice water and then dry and store in bags. This works well for broccoli, beans and brussel sprouts.

Freeze: Root vegetables, onions, vegetable fruits, tomatoes, pea pod and beans, brassicas.

Use within six months.

Saving Vegetable seeds.

The cottager saved his or her favourite seeds at the end of each season largely to save money. Today it is wise to save your favourite seeds not just to save money but as a way to preserve your best vegetables as in many cases the seeds may be discontinued by the seed company also the seeds will adapt to your soil and produce glorious vegetables with each season.

Beans and peas are the easiest to save just leave a few pods to develop to full size until the pods are dry and the fruits are ripe then dry them in a dry, frost free place. Collect your seeds from more than one plant.

Annuals such as lettuce and radish are quite easy if you don’t eat them they will bolt and produce their own seed. Biennials do not produce seeds until they flower in the second year; carrots, beetroot, leeks and kale will need more attention.

When collecting seeds or tubers such as potatoes make sure that you save only the best with no disease, clean off all the debris and never store then in a plastic bag use a paper one or an envelope for smaller seeds.

F1 hybrids will never come true again and should not be collected or saved as they will not make the same seed.

Harvest seeds on a dry day, when the seed is ready it will want to leave its container, if it needs further drying place the seeds in a dry place inside until fully dry. Remember to label your seed packets. They should keep for at least a year or two as they are so fresh when harvested.

Tomatoes: Scoop out the seeds with a spoon into a sieve and gently rinse to remove juice and pulp. Dry on a paper towel. The seeds will stick to the paper store them and when planted the paper will disintegrate.

Peas: Pick when the pods are brown and feel papery dry inside in a warn dry place and shell seeds save in a labelled envelope.

Beans: Pick and dry as for peas. To avoid cross pollination plant in a container or away from other beans.

Squash: Scrape out seed, rinse in a sieve and dry spread out in a warm airy place. Lettuce: Let your favourite variety bolt and collect seeds on a dry day by shaking spikes into a paper bag. Clean and store in a labelled envelope.

Cottage garden October calendar

It’s all about the harvest this month. More decorative cottage gardens will need some winter and early spring colour so remember to plant crocus, snowdrops and spring-flowering bulbs and plants. Before the weather turns cold make sure that you have done all those maintenance jobs done like cleaning gardening tools.

So grab your diary and organise your gardening to do list with ECL’s October Calendar.

October in England:

October foliage can be spectacular and if your garden lacks trees visit one that does. It makes a great day out and may even inspire you to plant a new tree in your cottage garden. English gardens to visit now for autumn colours include:

Batsford Arboretum: 1 and a ½ miles west of Morton-In-Marsh in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire

You may also enjoy visiting these English Heritage Sites:

North England:

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Northumberland


Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire

South England:

1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, East Sussex

East England

Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

Recipe Of The Month.


  • Beef Topside Joint (I used 1.185 kg to serve 4)

For The Yorkshire Pudding:

  • 110g (4oz) plain flour.
  • 3 free range or organic eggs
  • 300ml (10foz) milk
  • 10g (½ oz) butter melted
  • Beef dripping.

Roasting is a traditional way to cook beef and one of my favourite way to cook. Each oven and cut of beef is different and to give a set time would be impossible. Simply put the more you cook and use your oven or aga the easier it will become to roast meat. Use this as a guideline if in doubt have a practise run before a special event. Any leftovers make great sandwiches.

Beef Roasting Guidelines:

Rare 8-10 minutes per 450g

Medium 10-12 minutes per 450g

Well-Done 15-18 minutes per 450g

If cooking beef on the bone use the maximum minutes


1) Prepare the Yorkshire pudding mixture the beef dripping can be added later when the beef has cooked. It should be whisked until the lumps are removed and is the texture of cream. Put aside.

2)After weighing your beef, place in a roasting pan, resting either on the bone or on onions cut in half put in the 4th run of your roasting oven in an aga or on a very high heat in your oven to brown. When I seared mine it took 30 minutes in an aga. When it is nice and brown either reduce your oven temperature to about 180 degrees C/350 degrees F, or put in the simmering oven in your aga. Then look at the above guidelines to cook your meat as you like it. I slow cooked mine for another 20 minutes in the simmering oven of my aga to get medium rare meat. Put aside and rest (in foil if you like) for 15 minutes.

3)Place the meat roasting pan back in the oven at a very high temperature to get the fat smoking hot. Remove and add the Yorkshire pudding batter, mix a little and then put back into a very hot oven until the Yorkshire pudding rises and is golden brown. A less traditional way is to use muffin tins; add the beef dripping, heat up and then add the batter and cook as above. Its up to you if you want individual ones or one large pudding. It will take approximately 15 -25 minutes, keep an eye on it, they can burn quickly!

4)Carve the meat and cut the Yorkshire pudding and serve with roast vegetables and steaming hot (brown) gravy. On the side serve a horseradish sauce if you fancy.

In the next issue of English Cottage Lifestyle:

I will finish the harvest issue with “Preserving Fruit”

It is my sincere hope that the information I provide on English-Cottage-Lifestyle.com assists you in finding inspiration from the English cottage and country life wherever in the world you may be.

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Wishing you a lovely day,

Helen Green.
English Cottage Lifestyle