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October 29, 2013

October Garden

My garden is quiet now. We no longer here the constant click of the latch on the garden gate. The buzzing bees and chirping crickets have retreated to their winter homes, and the flurry of birds coming to the feeder has dwindled to a few faithful chickadees. Old Jack Frost finally came for a visit last week, replacing most of the summer greens with placid grays and browns. Putting my garden to bed for the winter is bittersweet. Although I am happy and anxious to move on to cozier indoor projects, pulling the brown, dried stalks of the plants that I watered, fed, watched and protected all summer is a bit painful.

All of the vegetables have been harvested, except for a row of kale that is thriving and flourishing, untouched by the freezing temperatures that came with the frost.  The only other green in my garden is the Brussels sprout plants that have just now sprouted. Silly plants...I have no idea why they took so long to set their sprouts.  Although Brussels sprouts are very cold hardy and actually taste better once they are nipped by a frost, I'm not sure the colder temperatures of late fall will allow for growth of the baby sprouts.  Hubby and I discussed rigging up a mini greenhouse over them in an attempt to give them the warmth needed for growth.  We shall see if this works; we are all hoping since Brussels sprouts are a favorite in our house.
I pulled my onions, but I was disappointed with the harvest.  Only a few grew to a good onion size, and the rest remained tiny.  I cut the last two cabbages and harvested the rest of the beets, giving the goats a meal of overgrown greens.  I have to say they were quite delighted.  I found one green pepper that survived the frost and a buttercup squash I missed when picking the squash a few weeks ago.  I'm disappointed in the squash harvest this year as well, a handful of delicata and four buttercup were all that we picked.  I'm not sure what happened; the plants were healthy, and the blossoms were plentiful.  I saw and heard lots of bees whenever I entered the squash garden, so I assumed the blossoms were being pollinated.  I'm thinking about moving the squash to a different location and possibly doing a bit of hand pollinating next year.
I have begun pulling the dead vines and throwing them into a pile to be composted (being careful not to add any diseased plants, such as the tomatoes that were hit with a blight).  The tomato cages have all been disinfected and stacked, ready to be put into storage for the winter. One of my boys carefully stripped the bean trellis for me, and the garden tools and instruments were gathered and put into the garden shed.
Although much of the work done last week was of the closing down, tidying up nature, I was excited to start something I haven't done in quite a few years, plant garlic.  The Littles separated the cloves, and I tilled the section where the garlic was going to be planted.  It was a nice switch to be planting new life and looking forward to the little green sprouts in the spring after pulling the brown, lifeless vines and discarding them into a heap.  We filled the wheelbarrow with dried leaves and heavily mulched the garlic bulbs after planting. We then covered the leaves with pine branches to protect the leaves from heavy winds and scratching chickens. 

We still have work to do in the garden and around the rest of Front Forty Farm before it is completely put to bed for the winter, but things are quieting down in preparation of winter's nap. We are thankful for the garden and the wonderful meals it faithfully offered us all summer and fall, and we look forward to making changes next year that will hopefully provide us with more meals for the winter.  Although it is sad to see the vibrancy of summer leave us, each season is a blessing, one that we must accept and take pleasure in.  As John Milton once said, "In those vernal seasons of the year, when the air is calm and pleasant, it were an injury and sullenness against nature not to go out and see her riches, and partake in her rejoicing with heaven and earth."
Thank you for stopping by the farm today.  It was such a pleasure sharing my October garden with you.  I do hope that you will stop by again.

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