October 27, 2017
From the desk of: Carrie Dirats
Every year it happens. Some time during the first three weeks in October comes the evening of the first frost. I know it’s coming and every year I procrastinate, dreading the final nail in summer’s coffin. As though, if I don’t prepare the garden, it just won’t happen THIS year. So October 16th, 6pm, as dusk falls, finds me doing my annual panic dance…”quick, grab a piece of garden fleece off of the asparagus!…I need a shovel and large pots! How many?! ALL of them!” I holler through the gloaming to a rather harassed looking hubby. That last early October blast of summer caused the pepper plants to flourish, re-blossom, and finally (finally!) start producing large, lovely fruits. Suddenly, instead of the original plan of picking them out and saying goodbye, I couldn’t stand the thought of letting the encroaching winter get them and began a frantic rescue effort…as in, “how many of these suckers can we fit on the kitchen windowsill without the neighbors thinking we’re up to no good?”
I just couldn’t let those peppers-to-be in the center freeze!
And then of course there is Charlotte Bronte asking “so where have all the free cucumber treats gone?” and digging up the asparagus bed with apparent frustration…no help whatsoever.
Charlotte Bronte inquiring about why there are no more veggie treats.
That said, there is quite a lot of gardening to be done even after colder weather sets in. Cabbage, swiss chard, spinach, and beets can handle moderate frosts. Even lettuce and parsley can survive light ones. Brussels sprouts thrive in cold weather.
Hardy chard, lettuce, and scallions in the fall garden.
One good thing about fall: It’s garlic planting time!
Calendula flowers add bright spots of color until the first hard freeze
A sheltered location, a layer of garden fleece, and eventually a layer of heavy greenhouse plastic can keep a New England garden productive into December and, so I’m told, beyond. Fresh local produce is so much more flavorful and nutrient-packed than those anemic, sad creatures one finds on the grocery store shelf.
Lunch….home grown lettuce, bell pepper, bok choi, and herbs with fresh lemon dijon vinaigrette.
If you’ve never gardened before and would like to give it a go, you don’t need a lot of space. You can start small with a nice looking ceramic dish filled with some salad greens and herbs. It’s an excellent use for that lovely spare soup tureen or casserole you never use…..and it makes a great kitchen table centerpiece.
Autumn Crocuses aren’t just pretty…the orange stigmas and style in the center are SAFFRON 🙂
So now, having survived the first round of the great annual fall garden panic, I’m focused on growing lovely fresh veggies through the winter and keeping a little bit of summer alive in my heart…wish me luck! #gardengoals #irejectpumpkinspiceseason.
The author….in de hammock and in denial