Edible Berkshires

THE LAST TALE: A Turnip by Any Other Name


Growing up, our Halloween lanterns were made not from pumpkins— which we didn’t have in Scotland in the 1970s—but from the turnips that my father grew. My husband loves this story, seeing it as an example of bleak Scottish determination: to carve out the flesh of cold, hard turnips purely for entertainment. But of course, there was more to it than that.

The Halloween turnip lantern has its origins in the ancient Celtic celebration of Samhain. Held in late October, it marked the end of the Celtic year, the end of crop harvest and the changeover to winter. It was believed that at Samhain, the divide between the worlds of the living and the dead opened up for a night. Bonfires were burned to ward off any emerging evil spirits, and carved turnip lanterns were used to carry embers from the bonfire to the homestead to ensure warmth through the … Read the rest


A Love Story



I persuade my husband to buy a tiller and a pallet of topsoil, and put them to use on a 12-foot square of our rather ropey and neglected lawn. (He has bigger muscles than me, and a natural aptitude for outdoor machinery.) But once the tilling is complete, as agreed, he “hands me the keys of the project,” as he put it. It is me who really wants a garden; this is going to be mine to grow.

My first lesson: There are a LOT of rocks out there—big and small. It doesn’t matter how many I pull out of the garden: the next day, more have inched their way out of the soil. This is backbreaking work. I am beginning to wonder if I am being a bit ambitious. When we moved up here, there was no vegetable garden. We inherited a blueberry bush that … Read the rest