Garden Log 9-30-08; So Long Summer, Hello Fall

September 30, 2008

I hate to admit it but summer is over, fall has arrived, and winter is on the way. There no getting around it so I may as well accept it!

Not that I have anything agaist autumn, it’s actually my favorite growing season in the vegetable garden, but I don’t look forward to cold, snow and icy conditions that follow it at all.

“Are You Still Planting Out There?”

A neighbor looked over at the garden a couple weeks ago and was surprised to find that I was still working and planting like it was springtime. I was busy thinning turnips, transplanting kale seedlings, and sowing seeds of mesclun, mache, spinach, winter cress, and other cold hardy vegetables.

With a little luck the garden will continue growing and yielding produce through the month of December here in the Zone 6 region of Central Pennsylvania. The only summer crops remaining in the ground are a couple of tomatillos, sweet potato vines that are rambling out of control, and various frost-tender herbs like basil and epazote.

I’m anxious to dig the unusual variety of Japanese Sweet Potatoes that I planted for the first time this summer so that I can see how well they performed. Based on the size and appearance of the vines I’m envisioning football sized tubers… but hope I’m not disappointed and embarrassed to find pencil thin roots come harvest time!

Fall and Winter Vegetable Production

The rest of the garden is devoted to producing fall vegetable crops such as broccoli, cabbages, turnips, lettuce, kale, collards, mustard, Swiss Chard, spinach, and oriental greens. Attractive accents are provided by the Mexican Sage that is preparing to bloom and a couple of huge cardoon plants.

The next gardening project will be to plant garlic seed, shallots, and potato onions, which will go in some time this week. A few new additions of ornamental edibles to the garden that were planted recently included a couple of juneberries, several filbert trees, and another elderberry plant.

The Season for Taking it Slow and Easy in the Garden

The cold frames are also being prepped and seeded to provide extended harvests of leafy greens into the winter season. Despite the volume of produce growing in the garden, fall is a much more laid back time for the vegetable gardener. The garden thrives with little in the way of attention and the main activities are planting and harvesting.

Plants grow slower, including the weeds which are much less of a threat these days. The cooler temperatures, combined with the shorter days and fall precipitation means that there’s little need to spend time irrigating the garden. Harvesting is even less demanding since most of the veggies mature slowly and will hold in the garden over longer periods.

I’m not ready to cease my gardening activities just yet, so thank God there are plenty of veggies that enjoy the fall growing conditions and will yield delicious produce for a good while longer!

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  • Yes still lots to do in the garden at this time of year!

    Its interesting to read about gardening activities in other parts of the world. I’m in England where we have had a very wet cold summer.

    I’d like to try growing sweet potatoes – I don’t know how sucessful they might be here though.

  • I just started a bunch of spinach and mache and planted a bunch of kale that I started seeds for a while ago. I also have a bed of carrots that will be covered with a cold frame for winter eating. I still have things to plant, beds to weed & mulch, leaves to rake, compost to turn.

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