Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 2012

Cabbage heads ready to cut.
As October comes to a close we still haven't observed a frost, though some nights have been very close.  A warming trend last week felt like Indian Summer, highlighted with spectacular trees showing off their searing reds and flaming oranges.  Many trees have begun to drop their leaves, while others are still green meaning we have a few weeks left of fall foliage to enjoy.

Red clover, our green manure cover crop, has begun
to spread out over our future corn patch.
Though our cherry and peach trees have decided it's time to go dormant, the growing season continues for cool weather crops.  Our Meyer lemon tree is putting on a show of white blossoms which are adding citrus perfume to the dry earthy musk of fallen leaves.  Soon, we will be bringing our potted plants indoors for the winter.

We harvested just about all our broccoli and put up 21 quarts in the freezer.  The 'Pacman' variety continues to send up smaller side shoots after its main crop is harvested.  It's time to turn our attention to cabbage; it's a real pleasure having fresh green organic vegetables in abundance to enjoy as daylight diminishes.  Brussels sprouts have finally made an appearance and are on track for an early harvest, perhaps by Thanksgiving.
Brussels sprouts have begun forming in each stem node.

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 2012

Crepe Myrtle tree brightens up in our front yard.
Garlic row.
Our third crop of broccoli at the new place is finally approaching the quality that we achieved in the old garden, where we would routinely see broccoli heads a foot across and larger.  The head shown below was still growing when we photographed it, and it did reach 12 inches.  It has taken 2.5 years to amend our subdivision soil with compost, leaf mulch, and a cover crop of red clover in order to boost fertility to the point where it really pays to grow organically.  There are nine heads this size ready to harvest now, and what we cannot eat fresh will be blanched and frozen for later.

A cabbage head or two could be harvested also; they weight about five pounds each and are still growing.  Garlic is shooting up.  Red clover is beginning to turn our future corn patch from brown to vibrant green.

Not much else is green, however, and our attention is turned upward to trees of many types that have caught the hint that it's autumn!  Morning temperatures have consistently been in the mid 30's F on our hill top, and sunny warm days to follow are excellent for creating anthocyanin in leaves, the pigment that gives them their flaming red-orange colors.  If this weather pattern continues, we are in for a very colorful show by early November.
Broccoli head, 10 inches across.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

October 15, 2012

'Packman' hybrid broccoli is very close to full maturity.
Our crop of fall vegetables is racing to maturity, just six weeks after transplanting.  But everything else is winding down; our garden is pretty much the way it will stay for the next four months through the winter period, while we take a welcome rest.  Red clover seed has sprouted across our future corn patch, and it will continue to green up until heavy frosts come with regularity.  Garlic has sprouted thin green spikes up to six inches tall.

Cabbage heads still need a few weeks of growth.
It is looking like we will be enjoying a broccoli harvest this week; the large heads a hand-span across are still firm and thriving in these cooler days of October with no noticeable damage from worms of the cabbage moth.  We've left them uncovered to receive maximum sunlight in these waning days as they mature; it's so nice enjoying fresh produce knowing there were no pesticides used - only our homemade compost.  Broccoli cheese soup sounds like a perfect complement to these cooler fall days!

Roses have returned for one last show - a rare thing of beauty before November drains all the color away.
Roses last until frost.

Monday, October 8, 2012

October 8, 2012

Broccoli heads, baseball sized, are swelling for a late October harvest
Last week's warm temperatures put the brakes on the annual color change; the traditional foliage peak in South Carolina comes second weekend of November, and it looks like we are on target. 

Cabbage heads are softball size.
Next year's corn patch was re-tilled, raked, and leveled before several pounds of red clover seed were broadcast and watered in.  Our summer flowers are composting while pansies and chrysanthemums add some welcome color.  It’s time to tuck our garden in for the winter, and we’re already covering it with a layer of cardboard and fallen leaves through which we will plant next year.

The only plants in active growth now are some greens, parsley, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and one volunteer tomato plant.  The tomato just blossomed this weekend, and we'll see what happens; it will probably be blackened by the first frost if we don't pot it up to bring indoors.

We're thinking ahead to the big winter project we're planning this year:  building a chicken coop.  By this time next year, we hope to be enjoying our own fresh free-range chicken eggs from chicks we raise next spring and summer.

"Fall is a gift.  A house warmed by the memory of a sore back and splinters, and a kitchen table blessed by food there as a result of dirty fingernails, sunburn, and compost is a great and generous gift.  Enjoy your fall - we are each granted a finite number of them, and it is a vast mistake to let any go by without cherishing the moments that make them real."  -Brent Olson,  Living The Country Life Fall 2012 Vol. II, No. 4, p. 40.
The garden in October.

Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012

The count is in:  we grew more than 80 pumpkins and squash.
We grew so many pumpkins and squash this year, we ended up dumping a pile by our front tree when we ran out of room to display them around the house and yard.  The pumpkin patch had to get pulled so we have room to plant next year's garlic.  In all, we tilled 1,200 sq. ft. of garden space, wiping it clean to prepare for winter.  Half of this will be sown with red clover seed, and half will be covered with cardboard and fallen leaves through which we plant next Spring.

Individual garlic cloves spaced
for planting across a 20-ft. row.
Just over one week into official autumn, we're seeing individual trees starting the annual color show; some sugar maples have joined the scene with strong hints of red-orange.  There are lots of fun local events scheduled, as last year's article on Pumpkintown's annual Pumpkin Festival will show; the festival this year will be held Saturday October 13.

It's time to withhold water from Dutch hybrid amaryllis bulbs and bring them indoors for forcing after the holidays.  Spring bulbs such as tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils can be planted outdoors.  With the likelihood of frost arriving by the end of this month, a flurry of chores need to be finished, like cleaning and oiling garden tools for winter storage.

Cabbage, broccoli, and brussels sprouts grow large, seen through blackened sunflower stalks.

About Me

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Dedicated to the responsible production and preservation of healthy home-grown food to the glory of God. Isaiah 55:10 The rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater. Organic, or not? We try to raise vegetables organically, using compost and manure. The addition of chickens to our hobby farm means plenty of organic nitrogen to compost! This site gives credible reference to planting information contained in the Farmer's Almanac (