Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Gardening

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.

Sweet potatoes taking over the garden paths.

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 finally got out and trimmed up my kale. Last year I let the old kale leaves sit on the plant over the fall until the first frost. Many of the lower ones yellowed up and weren't edible then. So I trimmed all the lower leaves off the plants. I want to eat the kale not lose it. I harvested over three pounds so I blanched and froze it for the winter. Though these plants will survive our winter (for the most part - I do lose a few), and produce again in the spring, they don't grow over the frozen winter. So I can't really harvest much then. A few leaves here and there are fine once it freezes up, but I need to leave enough green leaves on them for them to survive until spring. And to make sure the survive the winter better this year I put up some stakes and started to tie the plants up. Last year the snow was so heavy it pulled the plants down and broke the stems. I'd rather have the leaves break off than the stems crack.

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.


  1. One can't always believe the weatherman!! We have been working on putting our garden to bed also. I don't really want to be out there in my ear muffs doing it! Nancy

  2. We hit 80s yesterday. The pole beans, tomatoes, and peppers are a bit confused. They all had blossoms.

    It sounds like you need a few chickens to work over your beds to rid them of the slugs. Don't you wish you could rent some?

  3. I have a problem with slugs. I wonder if how they survive our 35 below weather? What do they hate. I have no chickens . . . Hmmm from Fort St. John,BC, along the Alaska HWY.