Autumn, Pre-frost

It’s almost November, and no frost yet in my part of New England. This is pretty rare. I’ve already torn down the tomato vines and plopped them on the compost pile. Though they were covered with fruit, they got late blight and weren’t so appetizing.

I am taking down the garden in manageable stages, reinjuring my shoulder tendinitis a little each time. But it’s going to be gradual, anyway, as I planted lots of things in there  that will still grow and even improve through some frost.

So I’m just taking down the stuff that is about to get killed anyway, and I’m using them as topping on my perpetual mulched beds project. This mulching business has saved me from so much watering and weeding, I just can’t even.

I took down some of the nasturtium vines that grew up the fence and flowered all Summer. These got piled on top of the beds that I will garden first early next Spring. I selected these beds for mulch only (no cover crops) because they are on the side of the garden that gets a lot of sun in early Spring. This way I don’t have to wait until a cover crop dies in order to get in there and start planting. I can just make planting holes in the mulch.

tower and nasturtiums

The pole bean tower is in the background, with swiss chard on the right. That little 3’x3′ bed of beans gave me bags and bags to eat, freeze, and share. There’s still more coming!

bwans

I am sooooo sick of picking these.

The nasturtiums really prospered and gave me lots of organic matter for the price of a pack of seeds. And I don’t think I’ll have to replant them next year. Their seeds litter the ground like gravel, inside and outside the garden.

nastseeds1

In other parts of the garden I planted rye, and I still have one last rotty bale of horse hay out of the 25 or so that I got from a horse lady for free. That hay has been a blessing to my garden for two years. Sad to be done with it all, but I’m going to try to use cover crops and as many autumn leaves and my own garden trimmings to keep the beds covered as I can.

The big Lutz beets are still there, too. No telling if they’re woody or not, but I’m just going to make kvass out of them anyway, instead of baking them. I have a younger second crop right now that is making lovely small beets for tender eating. All of these will get pulled up and stored on the porch to save them from the freeze, whenever it comes.

 

beets

I think I have about twenty of these things. That’s a lot of kvass.

See the perlite in the soil? I dumped my old potting soil on the ground last year. I won’t be doing THAT again! This bed turned out okay, but another one nearby got lots and lots of that old peat and perlite mix, and was nearly useless for veggies, seeming to actually parch the topsoil. It’s strange, because it works so great in pots. But unless you’re using it to loosen the ground for a new lawn, I would advise against mixing peat in your soil. YMMV.

Walking around in there this morning, I discovered an unexpected treat from an old mixed lettuce bed that I ignored and let go to seed; a single gorgeous new romaine.

lettuce

Aw yeah. Come to mama.

Carin’s horseradish got chewed to lace by a late attack of cabbage worms but we had such a splendid growing season overall, I bet there’s some nice roots forming in there anyway. These plants live in a raised-bed jail that I made out of garden timbers, or else they’d be invading the rest of the garden. After a few wicked frosts ripen them, I’ll be tearing into them looking for fatties to grate up into sauce.

horseradish

Welp, that’s pretty much it. Summer stuff is done, and in about a month it will be time to go out there and pluck the last goodness out of the place before the ground closes. Turnips, beets, carrots, chard. Maybe some brussels sprouts, but they will stand through most of the Winter and don’t need to be brought in.

Like the beets, the big pot of daikon radishes can stay outside until a bad freeze, but then will be brought into the enclosed cold porch, along with all my potted artichokes and perennials that I’m saving for a new front yard flower bed next Spring. It’s a cozy feeling, having a little larder of good eating right at hand, when it’s snowing outside.

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