October. We finally got a pair of solid rains, and moisture is unlikely to be a problem for the rest of the year. Summer’s annual vegetables slip into senescence. End-of-season work continues. Toting manure. Collecting seaweed when enough of it washes up, here or there, to make a trip with truck, wheelbarrow, and hayforks worth the while. Planting cover crops. Harvesting. Tending the greenhouse.
The patty pan squash is a crazy looking vegetable. The fruit looks like a vegetal flying saucer. This year, our patty pan squash has been the annual “ridiculously successful cucurbit success story”. The plants won’t quit. On the stool next to the crawl space door, there’s a milk crate full of patty pans waiting to be distributed. We plaintively ask every visitor to the house, “Wouldn’t you like some nice patty pan squash?”.
What’s the garden looking like? Here’s the “upper” end.
Asparagus patch in the foreground. The plants are still sending up spears, but the older fronds are starting to turn yellow. Below the apparatus are the fall coles, broccoli and our new favorite fall green, “cavolo broccoli spigariello”, or “minestra nera”. At the lowest end are the fall planting of carrots, waiting harvest and storage, and the green of cover crop on manure. Below the greenhouse, brownish seaweed mulch covers five little beds of garlic. We’ve planted lots of garlic this fall, at least eight different varieties. Some known, some unknown. One addition to the garlic arsenal is softneck garlic, as the distaff wishes some to braid, next year.
On, move we, to the middle.
“Middle Earth”? Watering/manure tea barrels are cleaned out and turned over. You can see the vibrant green patch of the “Bermuda Triangle”, a formerly neglected and less-fertile area which has received many loads of manure this fall. The cover crops thereon, oats, peas, beans and buckwheat, are growing lustily. No more winter rye for me. It’s too much of a hassle to deal with in the spring, when it turns into a hard-to-turn-under monster (or worse). The gang-of-four cover crop planted this fall will obligingly die when the cold weather comes. Minimal preparation is needed to plant, next spring. The dead plant matter easily rakes off, and in some cases, you can just plant right into the existing mulch.
Our final view is of the rightmost, southernmost, “new” part of the garden.
Nearest to fence at foreground is cover crop on manured old alliums bed. Mulched area is the “Garlickium”, where eight varieties of garlic are busy spreading out roots. We expect to see green shoots, testing the fall air, anytime soon. Next comes a bed with broccoli, calendula, parsley, celeriac, peppers, etc. Once all there is harvested of killed off, the bed’s going to get a solid dose of manure and soil improvement. The manure that went on last year had a high proportion of wood shavings, which wasn’t the best. Fresh wood shavings “hog” available nitrogen, and slow down growth. In the future, such manure will go on paths, with mulch on top, to break down at its own speed, and to provide a “sanctuary” for worms and fungi. At the far right is the pumpkin and winter squashes patch, in the final stages of disease and death. Futzus, winter luxuries, and butternuts litter the crisscrossed vines. The fruits look like corpses on a battlefield, but they’re actually the next generation. We’ll bring the fruit in soon, and will have squash (we hope) until spring. Those “winter luxury” pumpkins make the best pumpkin pie you ever ate.
There’s hardly a tomato left now. We can still nibble on the yellow cherry tomatoes when we’re in the garden, but tomato time is over for 2012.
There are tomatoes in the freezer.