Okay, so it’s been chilly in the mornings this week, and I have some really happy and some really mad crops in the garden. The radishes are raising up their little arms in exuberant joy–they own this season. The lettuces are finally starting to trust me that it’s not going to turn 95 degrees again and burn them up, and little kale babies are waving at me with their cute little hand-like leaves. The tomatoes, however, are blushing with embarrassment regarding how long they’ve hung on. The peppers are coming to terms with the fact that seemingly-forever does not mean, indeed, truly forever and they are starting to pack their bags (or at least stop flowering). The basil is literally shaking in its shoes (okay, fine, maybe not literally), because it knows the night of “black death” is coming (the night it gets cold enough that all its leaves turn black and mushy) although that night is usually not until mid-October (but word of advice here? Make pesto now.) The zucchini is waging all-out war and going down with a fight (and a large orange blossom). The eggplant is oblivious and is still happily singing Ella Fitzgerald songs with outstretched arms, but that’s eggplant for ya’. It’s a veritable summer/fall mashup out there, and here’s how I’m handling it:
1. I cleared out lots of spots, added fresh Farmer D Organics planting mix, compost, and fertilizer, and planted lots of fall seeds. I did this last Tuesday and already some of the seedlings are up.
2. I cut armfuls of herbs to dry for holiday gifts. I just wash them and then hang them in a dry, dark place for two weeks. I’ll then crumble the dried leaves and pour them into containers for gifting.
3. I continually pop jalapenos whole into a freezer container. I’ll use them through winter and spring by defrosting, de-seeding, slicing, and adding to recipes. Quick tip? Put a frozen jalapeno in a cup of hot water for a few minutes if you need it quickly and didn’t think to defrost it, and it’ll be good to go before you know it.
5. I’m thinking cold frames and row covers, although it’s a bit early for them here in metro-Atlanta. Fall crops like the crisp cool air, but I’m considering where and what I’m planting based on how I’m going to overwinter things. My 3′ x 3′ Farmer D Organics cold frame (this is a raised bed with a hinged plexiglass window on top of it) does best in full sun during the winter, and it can accommodate low-growing crops like lettuce and spinach, so I’ll plant a patch of that in my back garden to be covered with the cold frame around Thanksgiving or so. I also like my hoops and row covers in the back where the beds get full sun. Here is a quick video explaining how I make these (you can see the cold frame in the video as well). Farmer D Organics has 6′ wide row cover fabric, with 10′ wide fabric probably coming in soon. I use 10′ wide row cover fabric with the hoops (and I don’t have to buy any this year because what I bought last year will be good for another year or two, so it’s worth it). In my side and front gardens, I plant cover crop seeds after removing spent summer plants. These plants are no maintenance, keep weeds away, enhance the soil, and look stunning in the spring. They are pretty much a dream come true. Farmer D Organics has the winter mix now, and you can plant it from now until about November 1 to get a good stand before winter.
Finally, I’m enjoying my garden more, now that the heat has broken. The Gulf Fritillary butterflies (the orange ones with the three white dots) are flitting about the zinnias (which are on their last legs), a breeze is blowing, the sky is blue, and all is well with the world. Or at least it feels that way when I’m in the garden.
Swing by the Farmer D Organics store for your fall garden needs, or tap in online. And enjoy yourself out there. You’ll remember why you like to garden (or be inspired to start).