Main Garden Update - Early October

I mentioned on my recent Harvest Monday post that this is the warmest end to the gardening season I can recall in recent years.  I have never had so many beds still in production at this time of year.  Mind you, I haven't done much fall planting before either, but still - out of 16 annual veg beds, only 4 are empty right now.  Here is an updated screenshot showing the weather for the coming week:

Screenshot:  The Weather Network
Looks like we are in for a few very nice days before temperatures drop to more seasonal levels.  I’m hoping that this warm weather gives me enough time to put most of the garden to bed without having to don a winter jacket.  Nothing detracts from that chore more than bone chilling temps.

So now for an update on what is going on in the main garden at this late date.  The main garden has two separate raised bed areas - Area #1 has 8 beds and Area #2 has 4 beds.

First up are the beds in Area #1.  The carrots are sizing up VERY slowly.  I’ll be waiting as long as possible to harvest these.

There are 6 varieties of carrots planted in this bed
The late planting of Swiss chard did nothing – literally – but there is still plenty to harvest from my spring planting:

Peeking under the netting, you can see the spring planted chard
with lettuce grown from transplants in front
The transplanted lettuce in this bed is much smaller than the direct sown lettuce in the next bed over, even though it was started over 3 weeks sooner:

Lettuce that was direct seeded on August 18
Two things likely account for the size disparity.  Firstly, the Swiss chard is shading the transplanted seedlings for a portion of the day.  Also, I was in a hurry to get the seedlings planted, so I simply plopped them into the bed without adding any amendments whereas the bed with the direct sown lettuce was amended with organic fertilizer.

The next bed contains perennial bunching onions, leeks, cilantro and overwintering spinach.  I sowed cilantro in the spot previously occupied by the potato onions and it has done exceptionally well - I will definitely try to do a fall planting from now on:

Cilantro in front with perennial bunching onions in back
If you recall, my attempt at growing leek transplants this past spring wasn’t exactly stellar and I only ended up with a few seedlings.  A couple of them have fattened up a bit, but overall I haven't had the best results.

Not exactly a success story
When I harvested the storage onions a while back, I removed the netting from the bed even though I still had the perennial bunching onions and leeks in that bed.  I needed to get some overwintering spinach into this bed and I was just tired of dealing with the netting, so decided to take my chances and leave it off.  Leaving the bed uncovered had consequences - the leeks are showing what I suspect is onion fly damage.  The perennial bunching onions also have a small bit of damage, but nothing significant.

The spinach in this bed is still teeny tiny.  I have read that for it to have the best chance at successfully overwintering, it shouldn’t be that large when winter sets in.  Only thing is, I think it should be a bit larger than this:

Overwintering spinach
Bed # 7 (which previously contained the garlic & shallots) now holds fall brassicas.  The radishes and rapini have been harvested and all that’s left is a variety of different choys and komatsuna.

Various choy varieties along with komatsuna on the left
This afternoon I will be pulling some of the choys as a few of them are suffering from aphid infestations and several baby choy are being devoured by cabbage worms.  I mistakenly left the netting off too long when the plants were babies and have been paying for it ever since.  It has been an ongoing battle keeping ahead of those munching caterpillars.  Just as I think I have picked all of them off, a few days later I see more damage and have to remove the netting and go searching again.

Cabbage worm damage on baby choy
It has been rather frustrating and a definite lesson learned:  Put on the netting as soon as seeds germinate/seedlings are transplanted – you’ll regret it otherwise.

Two of the beds in this area are now empty.  The cucumber/squash bed was cleared yesterday and, of course, there is the ill-fated bed #8 that I cleared a couple of months ago after it was invaded by willow roots.  The tree has not yet been cut down...I am on my husbands case about that, let me tell you!  I want that "sucker" gone ;)

The parsley has been struggling for most of the summer but it has finally come into it's own.  I will be doing a big harvest soon & getting some chimichurri into the freezer.

Parsley is finally flourishing
On to Area #2 which contains tomatoes and brassicas.

The broccoli has been in this bed since early summer.  It occupied half of the 4 x 8 bed while spring planted turnips, kohlrabi, rapini, radishes & mizuna occupied the other half.  The other brassicas are long gone, but the broccoli is still producing some good side shoots:

My hyperactive broccoli plant has slowed down,
but it seems that his neighbour is taking up the slack
The 2nd brassica bed contains more fall brassicas – kohlrabi (which isn’t growing that quickly for some reason), salad turnips (most of which have been harvested), tatsoi & mizuna:

Fall Brassica Bed
Front to rear:  Mizuna, tatsoi, turnips, kohlrabi
The other two beds in this area held the tomatoes.  The tomato beds looked like this on September 30th:

Tomato beds on September 30th
Not too bad, considering that last year all of my plants were done and pulled by mid-September. Shortly after the above photo was taken, I cleared bed #11 as all of the plants were heavily infected with late blight.  I also pulled a couple of the most heavily infected varieties in bed #10, which now looks like this:

Tomatoes are limping along - I am trying to
wait as long as possible to harvest the final fruits
Still limping along are the following varieties:  Juliet, Mountain Magic, Amish Paste & Sungold.  Mountain Magic, especially, has lots of tomatoes that may have the chance to ripen before our temps are consistently below 10C:

Mountain Magic
The 3 tomatoes on the left were picked yesterday to ripen indoors
I love heirloom tomatoes, but the ability to harvest a few more tomatoes late in the season while most other varieties have succumbed to blight is one reason why I will always include at least 1 or 2 hybrids in the mix.  And Mountain Magic is a great tasting tomato - just in case you were wondering.

And we had a tomato surprise by the fire pit:

See the bushy plant?  That is a volunteer tomato!
With all the heat this summer, we haven't used the fire pit at all and I just noticed this tomato plant a couple of weeks ago.  Last year we burned some of the diseased tomato vines, so this guy obviously sprouted from a dropped tomato.

Looks like cherry tomatoes to me
Pretty incredible isn't it.  And of course, this plant is completely disease free, although I doubt that we will get any ripe tomatoes from it at this late date.  But when it comes to Mother Nature, you just never know, so I'm leaving it be for now.

Till next time...


  1. Thanks for the update Margaret, it's always nice to see what you're up to. Don't despair about your leeks, mine look about the same size and will never reach baseball bat proportions, but they are tasty, and anyway, how much can you use? I can't stand row covers, but have had good luck spraying brassicas with BT. Funny about your volunteer tomatoes, every year I get them in my compost bins, and one year we even got ripe tomatoes from them!

    1. I've never tried BT - I'm not even sure we can get it here. It does seem like something that would be handy to keep on hand, so I'll have to look around.

      Ripe tomatoes from volunteers - wow! Now that I have a "real" compost pile instead of just a black bin, I may get a lot more volunteers like that in the future - it will be fun to see what comes up. Although my tomatoes are so diseased that all my trimmings and those I pulled last week went straight into the garbage. I do hate wasting all of that green matter, but what can you do.

  2. I think nets are a necessity on lots of crops these days, there's just so many pests around, and new ones being discovered every year. I used enviromesh to cover my carrots for the first time this year, it's expensive but it certainly did the job, that and the new raised bed have given me my best carrots ever. Isn't it funny how plants quite happily spring up here and there and yet we sometimes have so much trouble getting things to germinate. I definitely think Mother Nature knows best.

    1. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with my netting. It does the job so well - as you can obviously attest to! - but is a bit of a pain to get into. You may have noticed that I didn't remove it completely when I was snapping the photos for the post and beds that are netted always end up at the bottom of the list when it comes to weeding. And you are so right about Mother Nature - she never fails to give me a few surprises each season.

  3. That's a nice bed of carrots, hopefully they'll size up for you soon. And you're direct sown lettuces are doing great. How do you plant your carrots, do you sprinkle soil over the seed or do you broadcast seed and then rake them in?

    They're predicting our first frost for November 18th, which seems kinda late, and a very mild December. The lettuces and spinach I chose are supposed to over winter but I'll be trying row covers/garden fleece as well.

    1. Normally I make seed mats "a la Granny" when I sow carrots: ( This time round I just didn't have the time so I did it the quick and dirty way - created a shallow furrow with the side of my hand and sprinkled the seeds in and then covered them back up. The great thing about Granny's method is that thinning is nowhere near as tedious as when you sprinkle them in freehand.

      I would think that your lettuce would just sail through your winter, especially if it had a row cover on it. I was able to harvest lettuce until November a couple of years ago using a row cover and I have a feeling our November temps are colder than you February temps ;)

  4. You have a lot of goodies left in your garden. That broccoli looks great. I guess you could try carrot top pesto if the roots don't size up. (Is there anything that can't be made into pesto?) Crazy volunteer tomatoes, I get them volunteering in my gravel paths and they do produce little ripe fruits that the birds love to eat.

    1. It does seem like almost anything makes a good pesto! I've never had a volunteer tomato before & it was such a nice surprise. I also enjoy seeing such a lovely, green tomato plant when all of my purposeful plantings are keeling over from blight.

  5. Your carrot bed looks very healthy, hope you get some sizable carrots before it's too late. At my old house, we burned the tomato stalks because we didn't have enough space for that type of composting so I used to get plants come up in the fire pit all the time - haven't thought of that for a while!

    1. I usually start by putting the blighted tomato plants in the garbage, but that can get tedious when there are so many of them, so I turn to burning them instead. I think that I may just burn them from now on instead of adding to the land fill. I suppose that means lots more volunteers in my future!

  6. Your fall garden looks wonderful! Leeks are always hit or miss for me, but they taste good no matter what size.

    1. Thanks Rachel. I'll probably harvest the leeks this week sometime as they don't really seem to be getting any bigger. I've never had homegrown leeks before - can't wait to taste them!

  7. It's been very mild here, too. No frost yet and it looks like the first spotty frost might come next Friday. But usually when that happens, we don't get it because our house is up a bit from a valley. Your lettuces are filling in nicely--how great to have fresh lettuce into the middle of fall! Those Tomatoes look interesting and yummy, too!

    1. Oh how lucky - I'm actually wondering what kind of a microclimate the hilltop garden has. I'm thinking of leaving a pepper or two in the hilltop beds just to see if they are affected by frost in the same way as the beds down in the main garden. It's been a couple of months since we have had fresh lettuce from the garden again and I really miss it - it's one of those veg that really surprised me in terms of how much I loved it compared to what we purchase in the store.

  8. You have a lot of lovely greens growing there! That carrot bed looks especially lush. I hope they size up for you in time. It's interesting that Mt Magic is holding on for you. Just the other day I was noticing my plant was one of the last cherry types producing, though it's really too big to be called a cherry. I'm a fan too!

    1. Since I wrote this post I have actually ripped out all of the plants except for the Juliet and Mountain Magic but the tomatoes are moving along so slowly I'm getting a bit impatient - I'll probably wait another day or two as we are having some lovely weather, but then it will be time to put that bed to "bed".

  9. You still have lots happening. There are always lots of tomatoes growing on filter beds ar water filtration works from seeds that have passed through your sewage system.

    1. Eek...not sure I would want to eat a tomato off of one of those ;)


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