October: Monthly review

The beginning of October was dry and golden!

Overall, October was a pretty month and a good month for growing once we got past that initial little frost on October 5. The leaves turned golden and gently covered the ground. The skies turned that deeper blue as autumn temperatures and angles changed. Birds gathered into noisy flocks that filled trees and barn roofs and power lines. The flowers intensified in color to lure the few remaining insects to pollinate. If one avoided the news, the rising virus numbers, and the election ads, it was a peaceful stretch of lovely days. And there were two beautiful full moons this month.

Many of the crops ended in October, filling the days with picking and preserving. The last of the beans were harvested and all the pumpkins, sweet potatoes and squash were brought in. Lots of beets were pickled, and peas were picked. There have been ample amounts of lovely radishes, lettuces, carrots and cabbages. The eggplants and melons were savored, knowing they were the last. Tomatoes still abound in baskets and boxes in the garage and are slowly being used or preserved.

Green tomato salad from the Plot and Lane blog…

The green tomato salad was a hit, but it definitely needs fresh cilantro to bring out the other flavors. Lots of apples have been eaten this month: pies, crisps, cobblers, salads, and dumplings. We had a “hard” frost on October 16 that ended the final bean plantings, even though they were covered.

The bulb planting began at a slow and leisurely pace, tidying gardens as I went and dividing a few perennials as well. Dahlias were dug, cleaned and stored. Braids of shallots and onions were all moved to the allium rack in the garage to prevent freezing, since the Lady Cottage has no heat or insulation.

The allium rack is filled with onions and shallots.

Garlic was planted on October 9 and 10, and is now emerging nicely, since we finally received some much-needed rain on the 20th and the 29th, which is also helping the spinach and beets to grow nicely.

Garlic rows can be seen now!

Compost was hauled to top off beds as they were emptied, or put around roses and leeks and the black currant bushes. Some wire tomato cages were also put around the currants in an effort to keep the deer from pruning them so drastically again this winter.

For the numbers: 206.5 lbs. were harvested in October, compared to 184.25 last year and 68 in 2018, so the effort to extend the harvest is working well. Twenty-four cans/packages were preserved despite my lethargy and vows that canning was “done” in September! The bags of garlic and baskets of pumpkins, squash, etc. are not counted as “preserved” items.

Here’s how the potager looked the last day of October. Still lots of good eating and many rows protected for the expected freeze.

So, now we are ready for November, which began with snow flurries and a hard frost yesterday. It may have “done in” the peas this time. I am no longer praying for rain, or good weather because the season is pretty well over, and the crops that remain in the garden (leeks, kale, carrots, parsnips, parsley, dill, kohlrabi, cabbages, turnips, spinach, etc.) are on their own until needed, although once the bulbs are planted, the carrots and kohlrabi and the last of the beets will be brought in before the ground freezes solid. Forecast is for some nice weather this week, and the job list is long…..

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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9 Responses to October: Monthly review

  1. Your green tomato salad sounds interesting. I used to make green tomato chutney with my left-overs, wonderful for fall and winter pork roasts and just about anything else.

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    • carolee says:

      I made lots of jars of tomato chutney and green tomato mincemeat last year, so won’t do those this year as there are still plenty on the shelf. Trying to eat most of the “stuff” fresh rather than using energy (mine and the electricity!) to preserve it this year.

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  2. This is inspiring. I have had small vegetable gardens for years, kept while raising kids and working full time – so they’ve been very modest. It’s so lovely to read about what you’re doing, planting, harvesting and cooking.

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    • carolee says:

      I’ve had big gardens since the 70’s, while raising kids, working, running a business, and going to college (yes, all at once!) and can’t imagine life without them, but I suppose at some point I will no longer be able to manage them. But, until then, plant! Plant! Plant!

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  3. Do you have any tips for cleaning and storing dahlias? I haven’t had good luck doing this.

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    • carolee says:

      I just rinse the soil off them and put them in a big plastic tub. Write the variety on the bulb with a marker, if you want. Then I pack moss or sawdust around them and put a couple of layers of newspaper over them. No lid. They stay in the unheated garage or in the basement. I check them once a month. If the bulbs are beginning to shrivel, I sprinkle a little water on top. If there is mold, I wipe it off with a cloth dipped in bleach and leave the newspaper off for a few days.

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  4. Most of my stuff is finished too and like you I have a long list of jobs to do!

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  5. I am so inspired by your writings and activities, thank you so much for sharing.

    Autumn is my favourite season, the colours, the aromas, the colourful carpets of leaves…

    As you head toward the cold of winter, here the weather is warming for the summer.

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    • carolee says:

      Autumn is a lovely season, with a more “winding down, relax” feeling if one is well-stocked…a panicky “gotta get this done before bad weather” if one is not. I still prefer the magic of spring, with all it’s promise!

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