Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's happenin' in the early October garden

Parsley in foreground, garlic chives and marigolds blooming in the background

Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is a time of year that most summer vegetables are winding down and cold crops are growing strong.  With frost, many summer vegetables will die and cold season crops will get sweeter.

We continue to fertilize our vegetables monthly.  We also remulched all our garden beds to give an added blanket of protection to prolong the season.  The mulch will break down over the winter, providing additional organic matter.
New zucchini plants with petunias

Our zucchini and cucumbers quit producing in the last few weeks.  I replanted some zucchini seeds in mid-August and there are baby zucchinis on a couple of plants.  The cucumber vines I just pulled up as I didn’t think there was enough time left in the season to get a second crop going.  It is not a bad idea to replant tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in mid-August each year to keep these plants at top producing vigor until frost.

Our tomatoes and eggplant are still producing well this year.  For tomatoes, be sure to take all the tomatoes off the vine before it frosts.  You can either wrap the green tomatoes in newspaper and store in a cool place to ripen, make them into relish, or eat them as fried.  For fried green tomatoes, we use Andy’s Cajun batter.  Gives them a nice, spicy flavor.

Any plant that has a disease, do not compost!  Throw away.  Composting may not kill all spores and you could be spreading the disease next season wherever you use the compost.

JalapeƱo with cabbage and petunias
Peppers love this time of year.  They are native to the mountains so they love this weather.  They will continue to produce even after frost.  To prolong the season, I put the pots up against the house.  You can also bring them indoors and they will produce for weeks inside.  When spring comes and you put them back outside, they will get a jump start on producing next year.

I have two Ancho Anaheim peppers that are ready to harvest.  I did not get very many off the plant, but they were nice sized and enough for the chili powder I’ll use for making chili this winter.  The Pimento Elite I planted this year produced many peppers but they just wouldn’t turn red.  Peppers get sweeter when they ripen, but are good to eat even when green.  The jalapeƱos were the same, many peppers but stayed green.  The cayennes were prolific and slow to ripen.

For the sweet peppers, the rabbits kept them ate back to the stems for most of the year.  I finally put a wire cage around them and they are leaving back out, but likely too late for any peppers.  The one pepper they didn’t eat was the Sweet Red Banana.  I got a few off this plant.  The taste was very nice.

I harvested the basil and made pesto in mid-September. The basil plants are quickly regenerating.  I should be able to get another harvest from them before frost hits.  These are very tender annuals and will turn black with the first frost.  You can dig them up and bring them in for the winter.  Place them in a full sun spot.  You can put them back outside again in the spring after all danger of frost has passed.

I planted some chard, spinach, Redbor kale, Winterbor kale, savoy cabbage, Georgia collards, buttercrunch lettuce, crisphead lettuce, some pretty ornamental kales and mustards (both are edible), and reseeded Earthboxes with lettuce seeds in mid-September.  I also put into flats some 9 Star broccoli.  This is a perennial broccoli.  It looks like a cross between a broccoli and cauliflower plant.  

All are doing well.  Many lettuce seeds have sprouted.  The transplanted lettuce, spinach and chard are large enough to harvest leaves.

The Golden Cross 45 that I harvest the heads from during the summer have 3-4 little mini heads that are ready to harvest.  They are really cute!

The spring planted broccoli is regenerating with the wire cage around it.  The Savoy cabbage is big and beautiful with two harvestable heads.

Cabbage, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, chard, onions and other cold crops are get sweeter with cool weather and a nice frost.  If the taste of these are too strong for your palate right now, give them another chance after frost.  Our Egyptian walking onions are lush and green.  The bulbs are filling out nicely.
Savoy cabbage in foreground, thyme at right in background
This is also the perfect time of year to reseed your lawn or transplant perennials.  I separated flowers and herbs to take to our lake retirement house.  I had two really pretty Italian dandelions in the Earthbox.  I took the smaller one and replanted at the retirement house.  Dandelions are perennials and very healthy to eat.  The Italian and French types have been bred to have large leaves.  Great to make salads.  

Many herbs are perennials-garlic, sprouting onions, lavender, oregano, chives, sage, tarragon, thyme, savory, salad burnet, and rosemary.  Bay laurel is a perennial at our Zone 7 retirement house, but not in Zone 6.  I have kept it in a pot for years, but will be planting it at the lake.  It will actually become a tree when planted in the ground.  The rosemary I planted last year at the lake is quickly becoming a very large bush.  I give as many branches as possible away!

Fall is a great time to cut back your herbs.  Save the stems, place loosely in a paper bag, put in a dry location, and in about a month you will have all the dried herbs you and many family members will need for the next year!

We are also still getting fruit from the garden.  Strawberries are perennials.  The ones we planted this spring are sending out many runners.  I took some runners and replanted at the lake.  The everbearers  and Alpine strawberries are still producing berries.  Our fig tree is also still producing figs.

The sunflower seed heads are just starting to blacken.

Fall is a bountiful time for gardening.  I have planted many winter hardy varieties of lettuce, kale, collards, mustards, and cabbage to keep the garden producing into December and hopefully beyond.  With the portable greenhouse, we will have greens all winter.

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