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Into Fall

October 7, 2012

Days shorten, nights cool, & the garden shifts towards fall/winter mode.

We will get several nights in the 40s this week, so the remaining summer harvest is not long for the world.
Basically we are down to the 10-11 foot okra, wild tommy-toe tomatoes, mountains of basil and two bamboo towers of “Christmas” limas.
The basil is most at risk, as a few nights in the mid-40s will cause the leaves to spot up a bit (although the flavor is still pretty good).

But the good news is some fall plantings are doing well.

I have several successive plantings of both both rutabaga and purple kohlrabi that seem to be coming along on cue (now that I’m not drowning them).

A small patch of kohlrabi & rutabaga (kohlrabi is the purple stem plant in the front):

An earlier patch of kohlrabi shows the “Sputnik” ball forming mid stem; for scale these aren’t quite ping-pong ball sized yet:

What the heck does one do with this stuff? I don’t know, but I am hoping we’ll find something once the first are ready for harvest. More on Kohlrabi here

What else?

The middle boxwood beds are well on their way now with broccoli, cabbage & fava beans. I have both a shorter maturity mid-sized and a longer “full sized” cabbage variety planted; based on the size of the leaves, “full sized” seems to be a bit of an understatement.

The favas are a new crop for us; I decided to try them for 3 reasons:

1. They should grow all winter here without protection.
2. They are a legume and do a very good job fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil and can also be chopped / turned under the soil after the harvest as a “green manure”.
3. I have read that fresh favas harvested when small are much sweeter than anything one can find in the produce section or a farmers market.

Favas are also known as “Broad Beans” and look somewhat like limas when processed and cooked. However, they aren’t a bean really at all; they are a “vetch”, which around here is used as a cover crop/soil conditioner and for wildlife habitat improvement.
The Fava wiki is here if you are remotely curious….. and no, I did not realize that they have to be “shelled” twice when I ordered and planted them…..

Bottom line these will be an effective off-season soil conditioner that should carry the bonus of a tasty spring harvest.

Another angle shows the upright growth habit of the favas (I did not want to have to trellis anything over the winter; these grow tight without support.)

What else?

The tiny leek sprouts from early spring have been transplanted twice and a second level of soil was added to the “final” beds several weeks ago. The extra work is worth it with leeks; the “blanched” white stems of these will be much longer than they would otherwise be by a factor of 2x – 3x, ie more harvest in less space. Also, the incremental “hilling effect” of this method avoids much of the grit/dirt issue of leeks that are hilled up in one big dirt-fest as they are maturing. The cooler days/nights have been good for them and for the most part they are fattening up nicely. Once we get a freeze I’ll start harvesting them as needed; they will store well in ground / as planted (and add a little girth too) so we don’t need to go to the trouble of harvesting all at once…

Double-decker bed of leeks:

What else?

That’s it for now. My greens aren’t photogenic enough yet, but you can be sure I have several rows of almost every type coming up right now.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Genene permalink
    October 7, 2012 11:40 am

    This is awesome! I do like the double decker leek bed. Great idea. We’ve been having 21 – 25 degree temps here at night 😦 I’ve been covering a few squash plants to see if I can drag the maturing just a bit longer. I needed down comforters on the pumpkins though, all the leaves froze. My hoop house still has tomatoes ripening & beets & carrots & chard. I even have some kale that’s still trying to get a decent “start”. (something ate it down to it’s little skeleton veins a few times and they seem to be gone now). My little sweet potato experiment is still underground but I need to check it today. I have a zucchini in the hoop house as well & it’s not completely frozen. I’ve decided it has to be in the middle bed next time to avoid the extreme cold of the walls. I did one small ‘barrel’ of spuds in the hoop house… so far so good. I even still have some green beans to pick but the beans don’t like the cold. If they had any legs they’d be on the last one.

    You give me lots of ideas! I just have to figure out how to implement them in our shorter growing season.

    I’ve never had kohlrabi either. I’ll be interested to see what you think when you harvest. Thanks for an always interesting blog!! Happy Fall!

    • October 7, 2012 6:09 pm

      I don’t fight the cold with my warm weather stuff anymore; too much anxiety if i commit to the attempt lol.

      As mild as winters are here (lately) a simple hoop house with a vent is good enough for most cool season crops. Some, like Kale, don’t need any protection although i think the warmer soil in the hoop house increases the growth rate over the winter noticeably.

  2. October 25, 2012 8:25 am

    Absolutely amazing gardens!

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