In fall I'm working on two things - cleaning up summer crops and harvesting and preserving my fall bounty. One of my big summer crops is my sweet potatoes. Last year I harvested them at the end of September. This year we have been taunted by our weathermen. They have been telling me that this week we would be in the 70s and 80s. So far it has been in the 60s and 70s. I didn't want to harvest the sweet potatoes if we would indeed see 80F weather again. But they keep telling me it will be warmer than it gets. Today the predictions are in the low 80s again. Will it get there? Will the long range forecast turn out warm or cool? Right now they split with some saying sixties in a week and some saying we might hit 80F again.
I'm leaning toward the harvest since I do want to start actually eating the sweet potatoes. I also want to see how they did. Last year they did fabulously in the brick surrounded circle garden, but this year they are in the regular section with wood sides. I really want to see how they do. Though in future years I'm thinking of reserving the circle garden for sweet potatoes on one side and melons on the other. They are my most heat loving crops and do very well there. A two year rotation isn't a very long rotation but I think it will work out.
I have two rows of kale, dwarf curled kale and winterbor. I've found over the years that both can survive our winters. I really like Red Russian kale. It is just so pretty. But it only survives our winter if we have a very very mild winter (zone 7 instead of our typical zone 6 winters). It doesn't survive well if the temperatures get below 0F. So sadly I quit growing it. I suppose I could grow it just for the fall, but it is very susceptible to our aphids in the fall. The curly type kales seem to resist them more. I did find a few patches of aphids on the leaves I harvested, but barely any.
I also started cleaning up the garden. I haven't gotten very far, but I took down one of the bean trellises. I haven't cleaned up the ground there yet or put on compost. I'll get to that soon enough. I don't like to leave leafy residue on the garden because of the slugs. I find I have fewer problems if I clean every thing up very well and cover the surface with compost. Totally bare soil over the winter is bad as it can break down the soil structure. So I use compost that the slugs don't seem as interested in. Last year I would have put on a cover crop, but I found those sections totally covered in slugs and cutworms. So I'm going to forgo that route for now. Which is too bad as a cover crop will hold in the nutrients over the winter and add carbon to the soil.