Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome Fall: Frost Tonight

Fall comes quickly in the Garden Spot. It begins with the diminished sunlight the garden receives each day. In addition to the shorter days, the sun has shifted to setting behind the trees at the edge of our yard casting shade across the garden by late afternoon. The plants respond by slowly reducing their growth. They struggle to produce that final fruit or vegetable, they devote all their energy to growing and ripening it. The foliage shows signs of stress as they struggle to give up their final offerings. When the frost does come, the plants are weak, ragged, and tired.

The nights are much cooler slowing the ripening of the melons and the final watermelon that are still in the garden. Even reducing the yield of the pole beans this week that have been so prolific for me all season.

It’s time to start fall cleanup of the Garden Spot. The bush beans need to be pulled. They stopped producing a while ago. I left them as they provided some ground cover and prevented weeds from growing. Also the deer chose to munch on these instead of other plants in the garden:

The cucumber vines stopped producing a few weeks ago too and were killed by the light frost we experienced earlier in the week:

The zucchini and yellow summer squash have slowed down in production and been ravaged by powdery mildew:

The self watering containers that had blight tomato plants in them will require special treatment. The water needs to be drained, the stumps from the tomato plants need to be removed, the soil need to be allowed to freeze to be sure there is no live tissue for the late blight to survive on. The containers need to be carefully stored in the shed where they will not be damaged during the winter:

The paths between the beds need to be weed whacked one more time. The plants sprawled out of the garden making weed whacking difficult, so I let things be for a while. But it needs to be taken care of before grass goes to seed:

Some of the garden will continue and will be covered up for the frost expected tonight:

The pepper plants once released of their heavy fruit last week, have put on a surprising burst of new growth as daytime temperatures remained in the high 70s:

The fall lettuce is growing really well and we are enjoying salads from the new growth:

The peas have formed small pods that will be ready for harvest soon for stir fry:

There are a few more melons that are almost ready. So these will be covered with a heavy blanket tonight:


  1. Oh gosh, that lettuce looks beautiful! No frost here yet, but it will get down to 49 one night next week. My swc's will probably be disassembled, then stored outside. Where do you plan to keep your growing medium?

  2. Man, I'm envious of your lettuce. I had to rip mine out because the rain had shreadded it. Bet you'll have some tasty dishes!

  3. So much going on! I envy you (sort of) your freezing soil. We don't have that and it can be an issue.

  4. Ah fall. It is definitely arriving here too. I need to weed whack the walkways too - same reason. Will be a couple weeks until I can get to it though as I am tied up all weekend and next weekend I am traveling. So much to do in the fall garden but there is something wonderful about putting beds to sleep for the winter by layering on compost or planting a winter green manure cover crop.

  5. EG: I love this lettuce! The darker red is called Red Salad Bowl. The red and greenish one with red tipping is Marvielle of Four Seasons. The Marvielle is wonderful in salads, it has an almost sweet buttery flavor.

    I am not sure what I am going to do with the SWCs growing medium yet. Since it is important that is freezes, I think I still have the original bags in the shed. I may scoop it into these, tie them up then store them outside in a single layer so they will freeze.

    Ribbit: I have never grown fall lettuce before. I am pleased at how well it grows and is virtually pest free. Sorry yours was damaged by rain. Is it too late to try again?

    Stefaneener: LOL! I guess you are right, it’s a positive that we have freezing soil in this case. I am worried that other gardeners not being so diligent though, late blight can overwinter in potatoes so we can easily go thorough this all over again next year.

    kitsapFG: I am a little sad that this season is just about over, but do not miss the chores of picking beans every other day. LOL! Seriously, it is time for the garden to rest now and that is ok with me. It produced very well for us this year and I can’t wait to start planning for next year.