Fall Garden Revue

October 8, 2006

Things are pretty quiet in my fall vegetable garden right now, but just because it’s October and winter is right around the corner, you shouldn’t miss out on the spectacular performances being conducted on the stage of the garden’s raised beds.

Fall Showers Bring…

Mild daytime temperatures and cool nights have combined with the periodic rain showers to make this fall an ideal season for growing vegetables. In fact, the garden beds are just as productive as they were during the middle of the summer growing season.

While I don’t venture out into the garden as frequently, and haven’t put much effort into arranging their performances, the plants are quickly maturing and beginning to bear harvests of tasty leafy greens and roots without my help or direction.

I’m enjoying the weather and growing conditions just as much as the hardy fall vegetables that are planted, and the garden looks as healthy and green as it did during spring. Plus this is the time of the year that I get to spend more time admiring the sights of the garden and less time working in it.

The Primetime Veggie Players

I occasionally pick a few leaves of kale, collards, and mustard greens to add to salads and smoothies, but I’m trying to resist the temptation to do any significant harvesting until after the plants have been touched by the fall frosts that will season and sweeten the fresh leafy greens.

The cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprout plants have really taken off and should start showing signs of the developing heads and buds very soon. While the carrot, salsify, and parsnip roots grow underground as though they were suffering with stage-fright, the lesser appreciated turnips, rutabagas, and kohl rabi are all growing right out on top of the soil’s surface.

The real stars and standouts in the fall garden this season are a few plants making late appearances and filling roles that weren’t expected of them when the original garden plan and script was written.

Extroverts of the Fall Garden

There’s plenty of color still decorating the garden, compliments of the edible nasturtiums, marigolds, and calendulas that insist on sprawling and continuing to blossom. In particular the “Alaska Mix” nasturtiums are growing vigorously and providing a stunning show with their variegated leaves and brightly colored flowers.

Meanwhile the seductively attractive blueberry bushes have already changed into their bright red attire and stand in a long Rockette-style line along the side of the house and they aren’t at all shy about drawing the attention of all passerbys.

The surprise performance in the garden is being staged by a huge cardoon plant intent on holding a striking pose for all admirers to take note of as it towers over neighboring chard and globe artichoke plants. The grandstander is fortunate that I don’t know the first thing about preparing and using cardoon or this act would be moved from the garden to my kitchen countertop.

Coming Attractions This Fall

A few upstart Mexican Sage plants residing in the wings of the perennial herb bed are budding and showing promise of a dazzling performance of their own within the next week or two. They were a big hit last fall and are anticipating a repeat performance this season.

With a name like “Bright Lights” you would expect such an exotic Swiss Chard variety to demand center stage in any fall garden production. I’ve decided to oblige and will prepare a solo post for these Prima donnas in the next entry on the Veggie Gardening Tips Blog later this week.

Finally, there are the trees ringing the fringes of the garden, which are preparing to join in on the extravaganza with their own colorful season ending display. Unfortunately, their finale will bring an end to my lazy days of being a spectator in all of the unfolding drama and force me to take the stage with a couple of props of my own in the form of a rake and a leaf blower!

This article has been submitted as part of the Weekend Herb Blogging for the week of October 15, 2006. So who are the star performers in your own fall landscape and backyard garden spectacle this autumn?

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  • My goodness Kenny! Your garden is gorgeous!!! I totally agree with you about waiting to let the frost sweeten the greens. So true. You have inspired me to get going with plants for the Winter. And it’s never to early to start planning for the Spring. Thank you for sharing your wonderful garden!

  • A Very impressive garden. Makes me feel a bit guilty at how much work my own garden needs right now! I did finally get the last of my chard picked this weekend and used it to make a yummy soup.

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  • I really enjoy seeing your artichoke plants i tried growing and somehow they did not survive. I planted some more today hopefully this time it will produce.

  • Homayun

    Hi kenny. I have very small space for growing vegetables. I intend to use from my court walls and grow my veggies on them vertically, but I don’t know how much and what fertilizers use to growing them as fast as possible. Would you like please help me?

  • Kenny Point

    Hello Homayun, the best type of fertilizer is going to vary depending on the type of vegetables that you are growing and the stage of their growth and production. But you can’t go wrong with a side dressing of compost if it is available. I also like to use hydrolized fish and liquid seaweed, both of which can be mixed water and sprayed on the foliage of your plants, once or twice a month as needed.

  • Jerry

    Oh, you’re missing a real treat if you’re throwing out the cardoon. My Italian grandma used to prepare “garduna” (as we knew it) every Thanksgiving – – and it was always a family favorite. I don’t recall the exact preparation steps, but I remember the celery-shaped stocks were breaded and baked. I think she might have boiled them a bit ahead of time, and stripped out the fibrous threads before dipping in egg and breading. I wish I knew where I could buy cardoon here in Long Beach / LA, CA area.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Jerry, thanks for the tips, I would love to try a good recipe for cooking cardoon and I’m sure that you are right and I’m missing out on a treat from the garden!

  • Laurie

    I grew up “Italian” so to speak with lots of old-time cooking traditions and “garduna pancakes” or fritters were among the most popular recipes. The young, late spring stalks are best. It tastes very bitter raw and never eat the leaves. I just picked some today and pressure cooked the washed, scrubbed stalks for at least an hour. Then I put the tender cooked stalks in a small Oscar food processor in small batches to make almost a puree. (This cooked stalk tastes similar to artichoke and a little bit like asparagus, but it really has a taste of own.) I then added the pulp to homemade pancake batter and fried tablespoons-full in an electric fry pan in some oil. They are good left-over, too : ) The cooked stalks freeze well. Hope this helps move your cardoon into your kitchen!

  • Laurie

    Hello! I made a big mistake! Please delete my post! When I checked your picture of cardoon, I realized this is not garduna. Garduna is burdock, the plant that makes those little sticky balls after it flowers.

    I am so sorry about this!!!

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