Saturday, October 31, 2020

October's Garden (2020)

This month has been exhausting but very successful.  The rain has continued to fall at perfect times, the first frost arrived on October 15th as scheduled, it was light and only burned a few outer leaves, then it warmed back up so the vegetables managed one last growth spurt.  An October made to order.  

On October 1st, this was the garden, plowed and ready to plant. 

The pile of grass clippings drying on tarps in the back of the garden will now be used.  Collecting and drying this much has been hard work - I WANT A ROUND BALE OF HAY!  I haven't been able to find any for sale close to me. We don't have a truck and they must be delivered with a tractor.

First, the wire hoops were placed to mark the rows, and then grass clippings were put down in the aisles.  Drawing plans on graph paper has never worked for me.  I need to see it with my eyes and design as I go.

The winter garden seedlings were ready and waiting on the front porch.

The back rows were planted first.  Collard greens are my favorite so I started with them.  They are in the left row closest to the fence.  Red beets are scattered around and tiny endives are along the outside edges. The next row to the right of the collards has different kale varieties with lettuce in between.

The collard greens will grow tall, the beets will cover the ground below and the short endive will fit along the edge under the low curve of the hoop house.  Since the weather is still warm, the beet seeds germinated quickly.  When the beets are taller, it will be necessary to weed, cover the soil with grass clippings and then this row will require no more work except harvesting.

The kale row has lettuce between each plant with grass clippings already on the ground.  The kale is tall and will last into the late spring before bolting in summer.  The lettuce is short and so will be harvested first since it isn't as cold hardy.  

The third row over from the fence originally held potatoes in the spring, followed by a watermelon in the summer, and then the assorted unknown greens' seeds were scattered beside the mature vine.  The watermelon is gone and winter seedlings are in its place on the left.  The unknown greens on the right will be harvested soon and that spot will become a walkway.  The row is way too wide to fit under a hoop house.

Surprise!  Another overlooked potato sprouted.  The first one was transplanted to the back of the garden with the other potatoes so I can see if the hoop house helps them.  

The first row on the front left corner moving away frontwards required strategic juggling because plants were still growing but space was needed.  The fence on the left originally held tomatoes (now gone) with a late-planted spaghetti squash twining underneath.  Swiss Chard seedlings were squeezed up against the squash and the Zipper Pea in the back of the row was allowed to continue growing.  

The first frost on October 15th damaged the Zipper Pea plant a bit so on October 21st it was removed and more Swiss Chard seedlings were put in its place. 

The squash that were hanging high on the fence in the open got frostbite but those under leaves on the ground were fine.  As of the end of the month, they still aren't ripe.  Time is up so they have been picked.

UPDATE: Even though they weren't ripe, we ate them anyway.  The only differences were that the flavor was milder and excess water poured out when cut open.

Two more rows of various seedlings are in the middle of the garden.

A thin row of assorted unknown greens was squeezed into the walkway between the Dixie Speckled Butterpeas and the short fence.  Two other short rows were planted at the last minute in other empty spots.

Now ten days later at the end of the month, they are huge!  

From seedlings in cups on the front porch on October 1st to this size on October 30th.  How can a person not grow at least a tiny winter garden?

Now on to the rest of the end of the month garden tour. 

The Tahitian Butternut Squash needs to go! If the weather stays warm (which it won't, 28 (F) will be the low tomorrow night) this monster would take over the yard and swallow the house. Die squash die!

The crazy Lima bean arch collapsed and looks even crazier. Thank goodness we live in the country and this eyesore is in the backyard.

There are so many beans the weight bent the wires.  I planted fewer beans this year than last and oh, what a little rain at the right time will accomplish.

The sweet potatoes in the deep shade under the arch produced almost 10 pounds of roots, much better than I expected. 

Regular potatoes are in the empty spot behind the sweet potatoes. They are the late-planted second crop that I had given up waiting for them to sprout.  It is an experiment to see if I can grow two crops of white potatoes in my zone, (6b - 7a, lower-middle Tennessee, USA).  The gardening charts say it is possible but I am skeptical.  

UPDATE: These out in the open were damaged by the first hard frost and the vines died after the second.

Yesterday we harvested everything left from the summer garden.  We got one small tomato, one okra, a very green pumpkin, Long of Naples, yellow, butternut, Tahitian, and spaghetti squashes. Dixie Butterpeas, Zipper Peas, Lima Beans, Purple Hull Peas, and green beans were picked.  Sweet potatoes were dug.  Dill and cilantro were brought in along with the peppers and cucumbers.

Everything is piled in baskets on my kitchen, laundry, and living room floors.  Today we have been cutting, blanching, canning, freezing, dehydrating, and eating.  It requires a game of Tetris to put anything else in the freezer and I am down to my last seven empty canning jars.  Tomorrow night's killing frost will end the summer garden and I am ready.  


  1. I hear you about the freezer being a Tetris game. Here too. Looks like we're getting our first good frost tonight, so I'll be harvesting the last of things today, and covering the lettuce. Here's to bountiful winter gardens!

    1. We are still stumbling over food on the floors. The canner is going, the dehydrator is going, every chair has a bowl of beans in it needing to be shelled. If you sit down, you must shell beans. Good news is company dropped by and I was able to send some squash home with them.

    2. Ha! I've been shelling some of the fresh beans at night, but have a pan full of dried beans that need shelling. I should have sent some squash with hubby today, when he went to a friend's house. I just read about your husband's failed stem cell treatment, and will add you two to my prayers.

    3. Thank you Laurie, we need all the prayers we can get.

  2. An impressive (and daunting) harvest. You are having a good year for food cropping.

    1. It was a good year because we had plenty of rain, wonderful rain. I know how you have fought the major drought in your country and appreciate when there is even just a sprinkle. Now that I know what a good years is like, I won't ever be satisfied again. Next year, it will probably snow all year long or something else crazy.

  3. Looking wonderful, as usual!
    We've had our killing frost, as well, and Rob has tilled up the part of the garden that is not planted in fall/winter crops. We have had success with our fall garden and have more veggies than we ever have before at this time of year. I'm especially loving the extra crop of cabbage. The celery, on the other hand, is mostly leaves, and is hollow, probably due to lack of water. It's been a dry fall and the sprinklers have been put away for weeks now. But, rain is expected today and tomorrow, and hopefully we will get more than we did last time. Celery is something we don't usually grow, and so far, I've chopped the leaves finely and put them into soups, along with the very scrawny stems I did get and I'm letting it just grow and see what happens. It seems hardy.

    1. The Conquistador celery I am growing is not impressive either. It was planted in the spring and is now only as large as the ones you buy in the store. That is slow growing. My complaint is that it tastes terrible - very bitter, spit-out-of-your-mouth-bitter. I have held off composting it until after a few hard frosts in hopes the flavor will improve.

      I am glad you are happy with your fall/winter garden! You will be especially pleased with how much less you have to work to maintain it.

      My hoop houses are finally up. I have ten! TEN! TEN hoop houses. Oh my. I just kept planting seeds.

  4. Fantastic harvest. I love collard greens and kale too. I froze lots of peas, beans, carrots and sweet potato to enjoy in the winter.

    1. The weather was so cooperative this year I am still amazed how much of a difference it made in the harvest. If only it would behave the same next year but I know it will act entirely different.

    2. Frost seems to come very early in your part of the world, so it is a race against time.
      I am glad you had such a wonderful harvest. but I also know that you spend hours and hours to
      preserve all these vegetables.Using grass clippings is a very good idea. It makes garden work
      a bit easier and it supports soil life.

  5. Fantastic harvest! I'm impressed by the growth of winter vegetables in October. It's amazing!

  6. I always love these posts...have been a bit off schedule and seemed to only get here on my phone and wanted to wait and enjoy on computer...till I could enjoy the pics. I love that one with all the lima beans.