Fall in the vegetable garden

Fall in the vegetable garden

I’m sneaking in a gardening post! While we have been getting light frosts regularly we finally got a hard and killing, or mostly killing frost, Friday morning. I say mostly killing because it didn’t kill the kale, turnips, parsnips, or mums. Nonetheless, the leaves are all down from the trees and it was time to cut back, mulch, and get ready for winter. The day turned out to be so much nicer than forecast. We got up to 58F (14.4C), which, when you are moving around doing things, is not cold at all but quite comfortable and almost a bit warm. It was several degrees warmer than forecast and not half as windy as promised.

We cut back grasses and perennials in the front garden beds to make snow shoveling easier. Sidewalk leaves got gathered up and piled on the garlic bed to insulate the bulbs so they don’t get heaved up during freezes and thaws. Leaves also got dumped on top of the oregano and the lemon balm in the herb spiral. I didn’t protect them last year and neither survived the winter. Hopefully they will this year. I pulled up the sad little beets in the polyculture bed. They tried, they really did, but most of them had no fat roots and only a few had tiny beets the size of very large grapes. The parsnips did a little better but not much. A few of them reached small carrot size. Those things are hard to get out of the ground! After I pulled everything up in the polyculture bed I deposited some comfrey clippings for a bit of homemade fertilizing and buried the bed in leaves.

The leaves that fall on the garden and under the trees in the front of the house stay where they are. Last year Bookman and

So many beautiful leaves

So many beautiful leaves

I raked up all the leaves from under the apple trees because the tress had gotten rust. I don’t know whether this kept them from getting rust again this year or if it was something else, but they didn’t have any problems so this year we have let the leaves stay beneath them. It is good for the soil and thus good for the trees. The yards of all my neighbors are nicely raked and clean but mine, well you can see what mine looks like. I honestly think it’s the prettiest yard on my street, whether the folks on my street think so I really don’t care. I’ve got better soil than they do because of it so nah-nah-nah.

I just got a little snarky there, didn’t I? Sorry about that.

I clipped off all the remaining kale, which turned out to be quite a lot. And I pulled up some turnips that actually had turnips under them! Not all of them did though. I think I didn’t thin them enough because the biggest one was at the end of the row all by itself and the smaller large radish sized ones were all growing together. I have never grown turnips before so I will have to remember this for next year.

Small but mighty root veggies

Small but mighty root veggies

I drained Amy Pond. I found no fish or fish bodies. The raccoons ate them all. I used the pond water to water the garlic and the polyculture bed. I’m not sure if we will keep the pond next year or not. Given the repeated raccoon invasions eating the fish and destroying the plants and generally making a mess of things I am not sure it is worth the trouble. However, the birds and neighborhood cats liked it quite a lot as a watering hole which kept the ceramic frog fountain much cleaner. Will have to do some thinking about the pond over the winter.

I did some seed saving: bachelor buttons, zinnia, fennel, marigold, a pretty purple flower that sprang up in a random spot in the garden that I have never seen before but would like to see again. I made some final clippings from the thyme and oregano. Watered the various berry bushes in the garden. Finally, picked up all the gardening tools and buckets and this that and the other and stored them away in the garage. The garden looks peaceful and lovely and golden.

On a gardening book note, I recently read and wrote a review for an upcoming issue of Library Journal on a book called Epic Tomatoes by Craig LeHoullier. I mention it here because it is a fantastic book, fun and informative as well as very practical. It made me really excited about choosing tomatoes for next year’s garden and I generally don’t get excited about tomatoes. I got so excited that I will probably be starting a number of plants from seed, a tedious and work intensive task since in Minnesota I have to start them in the middle of March when there is still snow on the ground. There are a few varieties it would be fun to try that I just can’t buy as plants so the work might be worth it. I hope. We’ll see. Of course I will let you know!

As always, you can click on the photos for a bigger view.

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