Someone asked me, “How was the garden this season?”
“Wonderful!” I replied. “It still is.”
We are fall gardening, with the end of some crops and the beginning of others. The light is turning autumn colors, rich and golden. We savor the days, each one now noticeably shorter than the one before.
Goodbye tomatoes, hello lots of other food.
Pole beans are prolific, delicious, and in need of frequent picking. Today we donated more than five pounds of them to the Unitarian Church of Montpelier’s free community lunch. On either side of the pole beans, winter squashes are ripening. It’s a balancing act of letting them ripen as long as possible, while picking them before frost — or before someone else grabs the squash you’ve been eyeing until it’s just right. The first hard frost will spell the end of these, so pick them now.
The bush beans are delicious and need picking regularly. These will continue once we have hard frosts with the protection of fabric row cover on freezing nights.
There are still beets growing in rows 2C and 5C, and new delicious beets just ready in Box 8O. We can continue harvesting these well into the time of hard frosts.
Kale and ground cherries (or husk cherries) are delicious in profusion. The kale will continue into frost season.
Ground cherries or husk cherries are not cherries at all, but tomato relatives. They’re sweet, tart, and unusually flavored. Some of us (like me) can’t get enough of them. To find endless troves of ground cherries, lift a section of the plant and gather the fallen fruit. The sweetest cherries are golden; green ones are tart. A great pleasure is to sit in the bush and eat them right off the ground. But carry out the paper left behind so the next ground cherry lover won’t grab a handful of empty husks. We’ll have to gather all we can before the first hard frost.
These eggplants are small and tasty. We want to let them ripen as much as possible but make sure to pick them all before the first hard frost.
Pattypan squashes and zucchini are still ripening. This is another crop whose last harvest must happen before the first hard frost.
Bed 5 is blooming with brassica. Kale, chard, collards, and beets are delicious and ongoing. Brussels sprouts are best left until after we’ve had some hard frosts, when they’ll be sweeter and tenderer.
Harvesting leafy brassica like collards (pictured here), kale, and chard. so the plants continue producing is easy if you do it right. Here’s the garden’s “Before and After” to help illustrate.
The boxes in bed six feature chard, bok choy, tat soi, arugula, salad greens, mesclun mixes, mustard greens, and spinach. There’s a medium-hot pepper plant in every box with fruit ready for you to pick and eat. Most of these greens will continue once we have frosts thanks to the protection of fabric row cover and the gardeners who cover them in the evening and uncover them to get the day’s sun.
Tomatillos are ripening, slowly, finally. We’ll let them go as long as we can (or some may pick them earlier), but we’ll have to pick them all before first frost.