Sunday, September 25, 2016
The October garden is very productive. The summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, basil and cucumbers continue to produce at a reduced pace. The cool season crops like lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, cabbage, beets, broccoli and cauliflower are coming into maturity throughout October and into November. Flowers and butterflies are abundant in the fall garden.
Basil will turn black when it gets close to 35 degrees. I pull all the leaves when it is forecasted to get close to freezing or any chance of frost. You can chop basil, put in an ice cube tray and cover with water to then use any time your recipe calls for fresh basil. It stores best when frozen in water. I also dry some to add to my "Herbes de Provence" seasoning mix. Make your own "Herbes de Provence" You can also make into pesto and place in freezer bags with just enough for a meal. Gives a whole new meaning to “fast food.” Pesto is great over pasta, fish, or as a condiment on sandwiches. Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil...
Other herbs will do just fine through frosts like parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, savory, and sage. It takes good snow cover to stop these herbs. Many winters you can harvest these herbs the entire season for cooking.
I will wait until it gets down to 32 degrees before I strip off the eggplant, peppers and tomatoes. You can freeze or dry these veggies. Tomatoes are a high acid fruit so you can also easily can sauce from them without using a pressure canner, a stockpot is all that is needed. Preserving the tomato harvest Be sure to follow any canning recipes exactly so your canned goods don’t spoil. For more on preserving your extras for year round use, see Preservation garden
Peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants are tropical perennials that can be brought in to overwinter. If you have a favorite plant you would love to have in your garden next season, bring it in to an attached garage or even your living room. I have overwintered peppers and eggplants. You get a serious jump start on the season in the spring.
|Butterflies are abundant this time of year|
Make sure you pull the tomatoes from the vine before the vine dies. Wondering what to do with the green tomatoes? You have a couple of options. You can make fried green tomatoes-yum! Just use some fish fry seasoning; we like Andy’s Cajun Seasoning. A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes! You can also wrap green tomatoes in newspaper and store in a cool, dark location and many will ripen. Check about weekly to cull any that spoil. They won’t taste as good as fresh off the vine, but are better than store bought.
October is garlic planting month for the Zone 6 garden! Plant in the waning cycle of the moon. Garlic loves loose, well-fertilized soil. Loosen the soil down to about 6 inches, mix in a couple of inches of compost, and plant your garlic cloves about 2-3” deep. Time to plant garlic! With growing tips...... Garlic leaves are one of the first greens you will see in spring.
Now is also a great time to divide any perennials you have, whether they be herbs, edibles or ornamentals. This will give them all fall and winter to put down strong roots. Perennial greens (like chard, sorrel, cultivated dandelions, salad burnet) are always the first up in the spring.
It is still not too late in early October to transplant fall crops like cold hardy types of lettuce, cabbage, chard, pak choi, broccoli, kale, parsley or perennial herbs. You can check your neighborhood nurseries for bedding plants. I use my Aerogarden to start from seed cold hardy crops I want in my fall and winter garden. Starting them indoors gets them going quicker. With less sun and cooler temps outdoors, plants grow much more slowly so getting bedding plants or starting indoors gets your fall veggies to full size quicker.
To extend the season, you can order a mini greenhouse to cover your pots or a part of the garden you have planted your cold hardy greens you want to harvest all winter. You can also purchase row covers that cover plants and provides protection from frosts, but not hard freezes. Preparing the garden for frost
Winter hardy kale, spinach, Austrian peas, carrots and winter onions don’t need to be covered and can be harvested all winter (as long as the ground isn’t too frozen) and into spring. I grew Austrian peas last winter and they provided greens for salad all winter long. They have very pretty flowers, too.
I’ll put our portable, plastic mini greenhouse over the greens in my Earthboxes sometime this month. One watchout with green houses-they get very, very hot in sunny weather so be sure to open them to allow circulation in fall and early winter. They will need to be closed up when winter really sets in December sometime.