Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Fog and Frost

There is a general sense it's time to batten down the hatches and close up shop as morning autumn fog greets us.  Fall does signal the end of most of our gardeners' gardening season, summer crops have mildewed, gotten frost bitten and stopped producing.  

 It's time to amend our gardens, to give the critters in the soil a head start at taking lowly organic matter and turning into something magical that will awaken in spring.

It's time to protect those tubers, bulbs, fall plantings as well as suppress weeds and undesirables that might want to nestle and find a place in our plots.

It's time to pick that funny pumpkin that has decided to grow in between the chain link fence that borders our garden and the dog park.  (It's located down towards the pet memorial garden.)

It's time to admire the amazing purple/black kale that grows all over the garden.  Does anyone actually eat this plant or is it just so dark and brooding that it's grown as a character all its own.

It's time to pick winter squash:  butternut, acorn, delicata, cinderella,, kubota, uchiki kuri, hubbard, turban, you name it we are growing it at the garden.

It's time to pick your winter greens, those salads with bite that scream texture and fall flavor when you bite into them.

It's time to add pine needle mulch to your blueberries, as the pine needles rot and help make your soil more acid, your blueberries are gearing up to give you a bounty next summer.

Last but not least, it's time to pick those fall veggies, you know the ones that taste better after a light frost, artichokes are one but there are many more.

Other things to do this fall:

plant onions, leeks, shallots and garlic
clean up all fallen debris from your crops, to help curb the spread of disease
spray a dormant oil
dig up or bring in frost sensitive plants
clean and sharpen your tools
plant bulbs
turn your compost pile

Monday, October 7, 2013

End of the Season Bounty

My children and I went out to the garden yesterday after our big Fall Work Party.  It was an extremely warm Sunday afternoon and we had some serious work to do.  We were quite surprised that of our summer /warm plants, the green beans and pole beans were still growing well.  Their pods were large and thick, thicker than the diameter of a pencil but with no seeds in them whatsoever!  We filled up half of a five gallon bucket with these wonderful beans.  Our patty pan squash plant needed to be pulled out of the ground but as I yanked the large plant up the from its roots, 3-4 decent sized summer squash clung to its stem.  The eggplants were pulled up, the rest of the tomatoes, the basil and some marigolds.

Leaves and straw are a gardeners best friend in the Fall, they added wonderful organic matter to your soil as well as provide an organic blanket for fall sown crops, such as garlic, leeks and onions.  Compost is wonderful added in the fall as it gives fodder for organic life over the winter months.

 The best thing you can do to prevent disease for next spring is to cleanup all the fallen fruit and leaves from this year's crop. Now is the time as the leaves fall off your perennials, to spray them down with a good organic horticultural oil.  The oil smothers insects that might overwinter on your plants.  Fall is a wonderful time to plant bulbs if you enjoy flowers in your garden.  Lilies are my absolute favorite.  I've also read that if you want to get a jump start on your flowers in the spring, you can sow many types the seeds in the fall, as it imitates plant's natural behavior.

Other than that, I tried to take a minimalist approach to winter gardening.  I like to tidy up, protect and amended, then sit at home pouring over seed catalogs in January, February and March until I decide to put on my gardening boots and head out to see what Spring has sprung.