October in Review

Here’s the potager on October 1, before I went to London, before frost.

October always brings the biggest, fastest transition in the potager. Early in the month, the beds are still lush and full. Production is still high and the preserving of the produce fills more time than the gardening. The only planting being done in October is garlic and spinach.

The spinach planted for overwintering is looking good.

All the remaining spinach seed was planted earlier, because it’s unlikely to germinate next year. Some of it germinated well, like the bed shown above, and some of it didn’t do well at all so I’m glad I planted it all the remaining packets.

The garlic is emerging. Some of it is 2″ tall.

The garlic is emerging in the first planted beds. Still waiting for those varieties planted a week later. This year’s crop is “Mary Jane,” “Deerfield Purple,” “Killarney Red,” “Khobor,” and “Romanian Red.” “Rosewood” was dropped since it was the least productive the past two years. Frost brings about a sudden and dramatic change. No photos were taken of the blackened plants, but here’s how the potager looks after the clean-up.

Lots of empty bed space now!

There are still radishes, lettuces, broccoli, spinach, radicchio, carrots, bunching onions, beets, leeks, kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, rutabagas and mustard left as well as hardy herbs. The strawberry beds (4 now) look full and happy after the recent rains, as do the roses. Now planting bulbs is the priority, and there are still a few dahlias to dig. Speaking of dahlias, there was not a single flower produced on ANY of the Swan Island dahlias. What a waste of space! I’ll dig the few that remain and store them over the winter. Maybe they will produce blooms next year, but I’m not giving them prime space. Meanwhile, the Brent & Becky dahlias have all been dug and stored away. They were delightfully productive!

For those interested in numbers, the potager produced 154 pounds, compared to 103.5 in 2017 and only 68 last year. The big difference is the late tomatoes, the delicious “Country Taste” which produced baskets and baskets (there is still one basket of beautiful green tomatoes in the garage) and the small “Harvest Princess” pumpkins which greatly outperformed “Baby Bear” planted last year.

Preserved this month: frozen broccoli, peas, pepper strips, green beans and diced peppers. Canned: Tomato juice, pizza sauce, piccalilli, green tomato mincemeat. Total: 61 containers. I could have done more, but I’m totally out of jars and freezer space! We’ll have to eat some things before I can pickle the beets.

I’m very happy with October’s numbers, especially considering that I took two trips this month. Even though we’ve had snow and freezing rain that tells us winter is on the way, there will still be enough nice days to remove the frosted marigold border along the potager’s central paths and plant the little “Bright Gem” species tulips. Still need to microwave-dry the parsley, freeze some chives, and dig the carrots for storage, so there is a fairly lengthy job-list for November. That’s fine with me. I like being busy!


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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