In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
These bright nasturtiums are at their peak in the fall.
I'm recommending that we not let go of summer. We are having an absolutely magnificent fall, so let's make it go on forever. I'm making notes to actually plan for this time of year when I put in the garden next year.
I put in a new/old cold frame I just purchased from a friend. I cleared a beautifully sunny spot in an existing bed and have planted mustard greens, pak choi, spinach and lettuce in it. I started the plants a few weeks ago, and they are the perfect size to start harvesting. Hopefully when the windows go onto the frame I'll be able to keep things growing so I'll have greens for Thanksgiving dinner.
My tomato and pepper plants are looking pretty sad, but they are still ripening fruit. I had to throw blankets on them one night, but now they are doing a nice job of giving me vegetables for salads. The flavor of the tomatoes is not as acutely wonderful as in midsummer since they've been exposed to cold, but they are still better than store-bought tomatoes. I'm bringing in a few every day and whatever we don't eat fresh will go into sauce on the weekend.
Swiss chard and kale are still going strong, and my cabbages and Brussels sprouts are looking quite tasty. These cool weather crops will go for several more weeks. Kale and Brussels sprouts are actually sweetened by frost, so I can hardly wait for the first ones.
I went out to harvest potatoes a few days ago- they will last in the ground for several more weeks- and was taken aback by how beautiful my annual flowers still are. I've let my containers on the patio go and decided not to replace the annuals with mums or traditional fall plants this year. But the nasturtiums, calendulas, marigolds and zinnias in the ground are in spectacular color. They all took awhile to get started this summer, but now they don't want to let go. So in spite of no show in early summer, I will certainly plant them next year in anticipation of fall.
I'm still harvesting a few green beans and the occasional cucumber, but they are pretty much on the wane. I planted bush beans about a month ago, to replace my pole beans, and they are in full flower. Maybe, just maybe, the season will last long enough to start harvesting them. It's funny, though. My taste buds are beginning to beg for fall crops like butternut squash, pumpkins and apples. Perhaps the cool evenings and bright fall light actually make a chemical change in the brain.
So, this weekend I will pick my apples for sauce and plan to raid the markets for pie pumpkins and plenty of Little Dumplin' and Delicata squash. Diced and sauteed with apples, curry and onions, they make you really glad fall is here.
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