October 13, 2010

Putting The Summer Garden To Bed

It's that time of year. Time to clean up the summer garden and put it to bed for the winter.

Except for that one lone pumpkin which isn't quite ready to be picked, the lower part of the garden is finished for this year. At the top are my fall garden, and the remains of the summer harvest.

I'm still waiting for the State Half-Runner bean pods to dry out enough to pick for seed and soup beans. These produced fantastically, so I will be sure to plant them again next year. Behind those are sweet pepper and sweet basil plants, still bright green and still putting out. Behind them the marigolds are going strong, and I have quite a few green tomatoes racing to ripen before first frost.

I'm still harvesting Swiss chard, but the okra has mostly gone to seed even though there are a few more blooms. Seems that ants have discovered the okra so it hasn't been worth picking. Also a few more watermelons to pick soon.

The task at hand has been to pull out dead garden plants and vines. I'm also pulling out these...

Blackberry vines which have literally been a thorn in the flesh this summer. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten pricked while trying to pick beans.  Last year this garden was just a vacant field, so blackberry and morning glory vines aren't a surprise. However, they get caught up in the tiller tines so I'm removing as many as I can. I've also been pulling as many weeds as I can that have obviously gone to seed. Like the sandburs I showed you in this post.  I know I won't get everything out, but my gardening philosophy is that something is better than nothing.

I've hauled off several wheelbarrow loads of the stuff I've hoed and pulled.

The goats think these barrow loads are a real treat.

In addition to their help with weed disposal, Riley has been on hand to protect me from the invisible boogie mice.

The next step will be to empty out the chicken coop and spread the litter over the garden before tilling. I've used the deep litter method all summer and have been very pleased with it; not a lot of work and no smell. In fact, this will be the first time I've cleaned out the coop since the chickens moved in last February as chicks.

After that we'll plant a green manure cover crop of annual rye, and that will be it until next spring.


Nina said...

Riley is very photogenic! Your fall garden prep is going well. I'll have to admit I've fallen behind on that. I still need to haul out spent plants and get the garlic planted.
I think it's interesting how climate affects things. I've been planting blackberry brambles this year. They certainly don't grow like weeds here and the fruit is delicious.

Woolly Bits said...

hey, a lot of cat action around you:)) we haven't had any mice offerings lately - but I don't mind, esp. as the postman tends to walk all over them:((
brambles were a total nuisance at first in the garden, esp. where they grew so long that they touched the ground again and made roots - awful stumbling hoops:(( they seem to diminish and eventually go away when mowed down (or pulled out, which is much harder!) regularly though - in contrast to ground elder, our very own garden plague....
our garden is closing down faster than yours, it seems - and everything is covered in leaves....

Renee Nefe said...

We had our first frost last night, so yesterday I went out and picked everything that I could. I noticed that there were cabbage worms on my cabbage again and that one of the cabbages was cracked??? I don't know what's up with that.
I just left the tomatoes because I have tons that I haven't been using. Tonight those are going in chili. there were a few pumpkins and squash that were trying to make another go at it, but I'm sure they're mush now. I got a few peppers and some dried out beans for the seeds. Hoping for a better crop next year...DH is going to help me move the cherry tree and if it dies, not a big deal as it was so big I couldn't keep the birds off of it. too big to net but not big enough that the birds couldn't eat all the cherries. sigh

The Mom said...

Isn't it nice to have garden helpers? Tearing down the garden each year is such a bittersweet thing. It is very satisfying to have it all neat though.

Mama Pea said...

Isn't it funny that because our days have been so glorious weather-wise and we haven't had a frost yet, I'm procrastinating doing everything I should be doing to get all the garden put to bed for the winter. If I don't get my rear in gear, I'll be working out there in freezing rain . . . and cursing myself!

Can Riley come stay with us for a while? (Call it a cat vacation.) Mice are on the move looking for warm quarters for the winter and we are cat-less. Our 13-1/2 year old dog says, "Who cares?"

Leigh said...

Nina, I think Riley is a doll. He is a very sweet cat as long as nobody messes with his food or tries to put him in the kitty carrier. :)

I need to get garlic planted too! I wouldn't mind some domesticated type blackberries. The type in the garden have small sour fruits. Yuk.

Bettina, always cat action LOL. I'm encouraged about your brambles. I'm hoping for the same here, though I read recently not to till them because it chops up the roots and makes more plants. :o

Renee, I've heard of cracked cabbages but am not experienced in the cabbage department. It would be interesting to look up. I'm glad you finally got enough tomatoes! In general it sounds as though your garden did much better this year than last.

Heather I have such a hard time pulling plants that still have flowers on them. I have a hard time thinning too!

Mama Pea, I'm amazed you haven't had a frost yet. I've been motivated by a forecast for rain. Especially cleaning out the chicken coop. I'll use dried leaves for a fresh batch of litter, and these need to be dry. It'll definitely be a relief to have it all done.

Scented Leaf said...

I think Riley has been very helpful not only during your fall garden preparation. God gave him a lovely and joyful spirit. Your garden seems ready to survive the onset of frosts and the cold winter months.

Mother Moon said...

bautiful cat... but then aren't they all. I know the feeling of preparing the gardens for their winter sleep. Sometimes I think it is as busy a time now as any....

Blue bird said...

I am at the end of the line with all those hard working people.
In my yard is not much there to do.
The big oak trees will fill up everything with tons of leaves and the neighbor will come to blow and take away the fallen leaves.
I have no mice anymore, but your cat is a very good cat to help you.
There used to be a night hunt here with the owls, but this year I did not hear them: Huuh, huh, huuh as they talk. In a suburb one can not think about lot of wild life, but still at night more guys are around: raccoons, field mice, opposum and who knows? left over food always disappears when I open the kitchen door in the morning.

Theresa said...

Brave kitty Riley! It's prime mousing season even if the garden is being put to bed. A whole heap of work Leigh.
I hope the winter might seeing you at the loom, after you've poured over those seed catalogues! :)

Leigh said...

Scented Leaf, Riley is a great little guy. Very mellow and I love that he always keeps me company in the garden.

Not sure when to expect that first frost. Last year it was Oct 19, but nothing in the forecast yet. I'm hoping it will hole off so those tomatoes have a chance to get ripe!

Mother Moon, I think you're right. I had a sense of being able to slow down a bit after two months of daily picking, freezing, and canning. But really, there's still a lot to do.

Julia, ah the joys of suburbia. A different lifestyle for sure. Interesting you have so much wildlife around though. We really haven't seen as much as I would have expected, even though we are fairly close to town.

Theresa, I admit that after the Blue Ridge Fiber Show, I'm ready to do some weaving! I'm learning to think of my life seasonally, which means winter will be the a wonderful time for creative pursuits.

Robin said...

Don't you just love the deep litter method for the chickens!! Talk about easy. Most everything from our garden has been taken out too. The only stuff I really have in it right now is all my winter garden plantings. I picked all my green tomatoes and have them inside. The nights have gotten so cool that nothing was ripening up anymore.

Benita said...

Wow! Riley is having a blast!

What a productive summer garden you have had. How close will you be, do you think, to being able to eat all winter from your garden (excpt for a few things like flour and stuff)? I'd love to see a complete list of canned, dried and stored food items, once you are done with all of the harvest. I have the feeling, it will be impressive.

Leigh said...

Robin, I wouldn't do it any other way! I'm amazed when folks talk about cleaning out their coops once a week. I much prefer the benefits of deep litter!

Sounds like you're expecting your first frost soon.

Benita, yes, I'm definitely planning a post on my garden tallies. I still have a few things to gather in from the summer garden, and then I'll write out my totals. I think it will be a wait and see as to whether or not we can eat all winter from what we've grown for ourselves. I have to tell you that it's really rewarding to sit down to a meal that is anywhere between 50 and 100 percent homegrown.

Sharon said...

The life of Riley :) Boy, would Charlie love to trade places. Our soft-mouthed lab brought in a songbird yesterday who was unharmed and was flying through the house. Charlie was beyond excited. Ian quickly nabbed the bird with a basket and returned him to whence we came.

Sharon said...

The life of Riley :) Boy, would Charlie love to trade places. Our soft-mouthed lab brought in a songbird yesterday who was unharmed and was flying through the house. Charlie was beyond excited. Ian quickly nabbed the bird with a basket and returned him to whence we came.