Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Fall Garden

It's now officially fall - by the calendar and the weather.  It is my favorite time of year. While not quite sweater weather,it is a wonderful break from the summer heat even though this summer was very mild. 

I have noticed that the garden is much happier with the break in the weather as well.  My pole beans took on a new life and began a whole new crop as well as the bush beans. While I didn't plant a lot of them, I was able to not only continually eat them fresh but put some away in the freezer for some future meals - one bag is specifically marked "Thanksgiving."

Fall plantings: broccoli, lettuce, kale, pole beans still producing

I direct-sowed some lettuce, spinach, and two types of kale seeds.  The lettuce and kale are doing well, the spinach came up then was hit with a couple weeks of heat which I think did them in.  They never grew and I gave up.  I purchased and placed broccoli plants in their place.  I also purchased a pack of brussels sprouts.  The brussels have been in for about a month and are looking good.  I can see teeny sprouts forming at the base of each leaf.  This is my first year with brussels and I am so excited!  I have been battling cabbage worms or as I call them "cabbagepillars" that are trying to eat things before I can.  I have to make a point of checking everything at least every other day.  Those "pillars" can munch a plant beyond recovery in 2 days.  I have already placed the hoops over two of the garden sections.  This is covered in plastic and become my little "greenhouse" when frost and colder weather is predicted--extending the season for some of my crops.  

Brussels sprouts with loaded sweet pepper plants behind
Look closely and you will see several cabbage worms-in all sizes-tricky

I am working on picking the last of everything left on the plants and pulling them up. They then are gathered and thrown into the chicken run for the girls to work over.  Once they are done, there is nothing but bare sticks or stalks that are then composted, burned, or bagged for recycling - depending on what it was.  They love to see me coming with an armload of "goodies."

October 8 harvest:
3-1/2lb beans, 4lb hot peppers, 3-1/4lb sweet peppers, chard, dry beans for seed

I leave my flower seedheads alone for fall.  I do this for a few reasons.  First, I love to watch the goldfinches land and eat the seeds from the coneflowers and black-eyed susans plus there is something about those little brown spikes that is appealing to me...the color? the shape? I'm not quite sure.  Leaving your flowers go to seed also allows for the possibility of reseeding for even more lovely flowers next year.  

Leave the seedheads for the Goldfinches. 

This past summer, I discovered some "volunteers" under the bird feeder.  While I pulled many of them, I left a few that were in a spot that could hold them.  After of a summer of growth, I have a nice little stand of sorghum!  Pleasant surprise.  

Sorghum stand - from sprouted birdseed.

My tomatoes are pretty much finished for the year - we had our last BLT of the year this weekend.  I still have a lot of peppers - both sweet and hot - to pick yet.  That is a good thing since we eat a lot of peppers through the winter.

I still have a lot of garden "to-dos" ahead of me for the fall... 

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