Pumpkins awaiting their fate – to be carved up – lit for one night and then be discarded! It is estimated that 10 million pumpkins are grown in the UK every year and 95% are used as Halloween lanterns.

Pumpkins for sale for Halloween

The tradition of using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom which was taken to America by European immigrants. The faces of lost souls were carved onto hollowed out pumpkins and turnips and a candle was placed inside to make a lantern, which was placed on doorsteps to ward off evil spirits.

I decided to investigate the first early potatoes (variety Rockets) that I planted on 9 March and discovered quite a large potato – a bit bigger than I would have liked for new potatoes, but I suspect the warm, wet weather we’ve had recently has made them grow rapidly. I dug up the first root and this was the result. I added a sprig of mint in the saucepan when cooking them and they smelt and tasted delicious!

Home grown new potatoes

I also picked another 2.25lbs of strawberries. I saved this tray from some I bought at the supermarket last year. Strawberries bruise easily and spreading and storing them like this is ideal for a longer storage time.

Home grown Hapil strawberries

These are the runner bean seeds I saved from last year’s crop, ready for sowing next month. Prices of vegetable seeds have risen enormously in recent years since it has become popular to ‘grow your own’, so it is always worth saving some seed if you can.

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The lettuces I planted in the greenhouse about a month ago are growing well in the mild weather.

I have started to crop the larger leaves, leaving the plants to continue growing.

Now it’s started to get a little colder, the greenhouse has been lined with some bubble-wrap to try and prolong the life of the lettuces!

Corn on the cobsKeep a close eye on developing sweetcorn. Once the silk tassels have turn brown, they should be ready for harvesting in about a week, depending on the weather.

To check the sweetcorn is ripe you need to peel back the outer layers of husks to reveal the kernels. Sometimes the kernels near the top of the ear of sweetcorn  may not have developed, so it’s always worth checking further down the cob. Sometimes the ears of corn don’t get properly fertilised so not all of the kernels develop. The rest of the sweetcorn is still edible, just cut off the under developed part of the cob.

Use your thumbnail to puncture a kernel. If the liquid is translucent and milky then the sweetcorn is ready for harvesting. If it is still watery and clear then they are not yet ready and you need to replace the husks.

The first year I grow sweetcorn, I kept leaving the cobs thinking they weren’t ready. In fact it was just that the top kernels that had not developed properly. We ended up with over-ripe cobs which were rather dry!

Pick the cobs as close to when you are going to cook them as possible. Once picked, the sugar in the kernels turn rapidly to starch. They can easily go past their best in a day or two. This is the reason why it is worth growing your own, as shop ones just don’t taste as sweet!

Picked our first sweetcorn cobs of the season for our tea today. They were delicious. Sweet and juicy!