|Pepper plant covered in peppers|
Sunday, October 1, 2017
The October garden is very productive. The summer vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, basil and cucumbers continue to produce at a reduced pace. These crops are very prolific right now. The cool season crops like lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, cabbage, beets, broccoli and cauliflower are coming into maturity throughout October and into November. Flowers, bees and butterflies are abundant in the fall garden.
Now is the time to save seeds from your favorite fruits and veggie plants from the season if you haven't done so already. The plants still producing well this time of year are great ones to make sure you have some seeds to plant again next year. The varieties that do well in your garden conditions are ones you want to invite back!
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. 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...
|Bee on zinnia with purple and white basil flowers|
I have plenty of pesto from last year so this year I am letting the basil flower. The bees just love it! Bees favorite flowers are those with the small flowers like basil. The purple holy basil flowers mixed with the white sweet basil flowers are quite pretty, too.
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. Cut back the extra now, dry and make into seasoning mixes which you can give to the whole family at Christmas. Make your own "Herbes de Provence"
I will wait until it gets below 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
|Daily harvest in the early fall 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. I am bringing in my favorite sweet pepper plants, the tiny hot pepper plant Chipetlin and my white eggplant to overwinter.
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 and November is garlic planting month for the Zone 7 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.
|Chard in the forefront with morning glories in the background|
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. This is the perfect time to plant any perennial plant. The fall and winter allows the plants roots to grow deep, preparing it for a fast start in the spring. Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden
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. Add about 2 weeks to the "Days to Harvest" timing for fall planted edibles.
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
Portable greenhouse with potted salad greens inside for winter growing
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. Come spring I had lots of early peas too.
I’ll put our portable, plastic mini greenhouse over the greens in my Earthboxes sometime this month or next. 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.