Sunday, October 20, 2019

What's happening in the late October garden

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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.  The biggest difference between spring and fall is that the days are getting shorter instead of longer.  For planting in the fall, add 2 weeks to the "Days to harvest" on seed packets to compensate.

We continue to fertilize our vegetables monthly.  Fertilizer stimulates new growth so don't fertilize the plants that are "tender"/susceptible to frost.  This is also a great time to re-mulch the 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.

Be sure that you are saving seeds from your best producers for next year's garden.  Seeds from plants that do well in your garden are the best to save as they are proven to like your garden conditions.  Always save seed from the best tasting, best sized veggies.  Seed saving-fun, easy and a cost saver

Our zucchini and cucumbers are done for the year.  It is a good idea to replant some zucchini seeds in August to keep zucchinis on hand in the garden.  It is not a bad idea to replant tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in early August each year to keep these plants at top producing vigor until frost.

Our tomatoes and eggplant are still producing slowly.  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.  A late fall tradition-fried green tomatoes!

Any plant that has a disease, do not compost!  Throw away in the trash.  Composting may not kill all spores and you could be spreading the disease next season wherever you use the compost.  Composting is possible in small spaces or even indoors

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.  Peppers a Plenty in September

I have gotten many Poblano peppers off the two pots I had this year.  I have had them drying.  I cut them in half and keep them outside until it starts getting chilly.  It is about time for me to put them in the oven at a low temp and get the rest of the moisture out and grind them into chili powder.  

For the sweet peppers, I grew three varieties in pots and am still getting peppers from them. 

I harvested the basil in mid-September to dry.  I put the cut stems into a paper bag loosely to let them dry.  I took the leaves off the dry stems today.  I'll keep them in a ziplock in a dark room until I am ready to use them. 

Basil 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.  Basil basics-harvesting, preserving, growing basil

I volunteer lettuce, parsley, carrots, and cilantro that are a few inches tall now.   All are doing well.  My potted cultivated dandelions, arugula, corn salad and parsley is still producing and will continue through the winter.  Dandelions are perennials and very healthy to eat.  The Italian and French types have been bred to have large leaves.  Great to make salads.  Plant lettuce seed now for fall and winter harvest...

Cabbage, kale, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, chard, onions, arugula and other cold crops get sweeter with cool weather and a nice frost.  The kale is putting on many new leaves.  They love the cool weather. 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.   Egyptian walking onions

This is also the perfect time of year to reseed your lawn or transplant perennials.  The fall and winter give the roots time to establish so they will be ready to grow upwards come spring. 

Many herbs are perennials-garlic, sprouting onions, lavender, oregano, chives, sage, tarragon, thyme, savory, salad burnet, and rosemary.  Bay laurel is a perennial but may not make it through our erratic temperatures.  I keep them in pots and bring into the garage each year.  They are getting quite large. The rosemary I planted last year returned this year.  We shall see if it makes it another year.  I don't have the best luck with rosemary making it through late winter/early spring.  Perennial veggies in the Midwest garden

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!  Make your own "Herbes de Provence"

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

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fall composting tips

Dual chamber tumbler compost bin
Monday, October 14, 2019

Had problems with your compost bin last winter?  Fall is the time to get your compost bins set up for winter.

Last winter, my compost bin pretty much had my food scraps on hold with no composting happening.  To make sure I have enough composting space this winter, I plan on getting both sides of my dual composter cleared out so I have plenty of room for my winter food scraps.

In winter, composting slows down to a crawl.  My tumbler type composter also let water in when it rains.  I had an insulated compost bin made from galvanized metal from Jur_Global, but it rusted through in a couple of years because rain water would leak into it and it was expensive!  I bought a plastic composter this year so I don't have to worry about it rusting, but it is not insulated so composting will be even slower this fall and winter.

I did save the insulated tumbling composter.  Would like to make another like it but with aluminum so it won't rust away.  A project for the future...........

You could place your tumbling type composter under an awning to keep out unwanted rain water.  This would keep it from being soaking wet which pretty much stops composting activity.  

Since I don't have a covered area to put my tumbler type composter, I plan on getting it cleaned out by the end of October.  I'll add plenty of dry materials to help compensate for the rain intrusion through the winter season along with my food scraps.  

My new tumbling compost bin came with a catch bucket underneath.  I'll use the liquids for my "compost" tea on my indoor plants.

For more tips on composting problems, Troubleshooting your compost pile