Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall Garden, or It's not over until it's over

The summer was a real scorcher, but since mid-August it has been cooler than normal.  Plants are still producing, but growing more slowly in the the cooler and shorter days.  The woods to the south will come into play in a few more weeks, making the days too short to grow anything.  I’ve tried planting fall lettuce, but by the time the soil is cool enough to germinate seeds it’s too late.  Spinach may or may not give me a fall crop.  I planted some quick maturing spinach about two weeks ago.
The sweet peppers and hot peppers have provided slow but steady production all summer.  I especially like the Carmens, great flavor.  The red pepper in the lower left is a ripe Carmen.
It looks like most of the ancho peppers will ripen at the end of the season.  Only a few of its peppers have ripened so far but it’s loaded with green and semi-ripe peppers.  There’s a few now that have turned red and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be a good picking of anchos in a week or two.  I plan to dry them to use in chili flakes or powder.  I’m not sure what stage of ripeness is best for this, but it’s probably when they are red ripe.  This plant is by far the largest of the pepper plants. 
In the same bed the two tomato plants have tomatoes in various stages of ripening.  The Supersonic plant has tomatoes that should ripen over the next few weeks.  The Black Krim does not produce as much as the Supersonic, but it has held up very well for an heirloom.   If the frost holds off I should get tomatoes for another month.
This is the brassica bed with the fall planting of cole crops – 2 Starbor kale, 2 Kolibri kohlrabi, 2 Soloist chinese cabbage, 1 Tatsoi and a cauliflower plant (foreground) which has no chance of making a head before winter.  The plants were seeded on Aug 14, which is a little late but before that it was hotter than blazes.  At the end of the bed are two Jade Cross brussels sprouts which are loaded with little stem cabbages.  There’s also a cauliflower plant (upper left) that was planted May 8.  It resumed growing in the cooler weather and is now forming a head!  The Diva cucumber on the trellis is finished, but there's one more cucumber on the vine, which I plan to pick. 
The parsnip foliage looks beat up.  After taking these pics I cleaned out the dead and diseased foliage- a case where writing about something motivated me to take action.   The two red burgundy okra plants continues to produce a few okra.  Next year I want to plant okra in pots in order to free up space in the beds.  There’s two rows of carrots in the foreground.
The former potato bed now has beans.  The Roma bush beans will be picked later today. The cool weather the last few days has slowed them down a bit.  They were seeded Aug 1.  The cage of Kentucky Wonder pole beans was seeded July 25 and has a few blossoms.  It may need warmer weather to produce much. 
This bed started out as the onion bed.  It has a few rows of Dragon Langerie bush beans which were pulled up after this picture was taken.  I cultivated the ground and planted two rows of Double Choice spinach for overwintering.  I’ll wait a week and plant two more rows.  I’ve found that spinach planted too early doesn’t overwinter that well, that’s why I’m doing two staggered plantings.  There’s also some carrots and herbs in this bed. 
The butternut squash is a what's-there-to-lose experiment.  After losing the first plant to disease – the plant wilted and the leaves yellowed – I planted another one in early August.  It grew very fast and set out a number of butternuts.  Some of the smaller fruits that set have withered on the vine as the plant could not produce enough energy to support the new fruits.  But it looks like this plant will give me at least three nice butternuts which is certainly better than none at all.  It just needs some more sunny days to ripen them.
This bed was the greens bed in the spring.  It had a planting of beans in the summer.  Now it’s got some carrots and scallions and some green manure mix where the beans were. 
This spring I planted two semi-dwarf apple trees on the slope toward the pond, a Fuji and a Golden delicious.  They have shown more vigor since the hot weather ended and are growing well.  Next spring I’ll have to prune them, time to do a little research on that.
In the back of the picture is a new bed made by terracing the slope with 2x4’s.  I bought a yard of dirt/compost mix, mounded it against the back wall of the terrace and covered it with some weed fabric that was in the garage.  The compost will get a chance to mellow for a while, as it had the distinct smell of horse poop when I bought it.  I plant to plant potatoes in this bed next year.  
That’s the tour.  There’s still lots of things that can be gotten from the garden in the fall here in southern Indiana.  

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