October 28, 2022

Garden Notes: October 2022

I love October. In September, we hope for relief from the blazing summer heat, but in October, there is a noticeable drop in temperature. It's the month when we start watching for an early frost, and it's the month when the leaves begin to change color. (For my October fall color photos, click here.) It's the month when all our homestead critters are frisky and full of antics. Kitchen and garden projects have slowed down so there's time to enjoy the changes. Most of my cooking is done in the house now, rather than my back porch summer kitchen. October is when we light our first woodstove fire of the season and the first of the canned summer goodness is opened and consumed. The only downside to October, is that it's typically a dry month for us.


  • 12th: 0.05"
  • 26th: 0.125"
  • 31st: 1.375"
  • Total: 1.55 inches

  • nighttime range: 31-63°F (-0.5-17°C)
  • daytime range: 58-80°F (14-27°C)

First Frost

We had scattered frost on the morning of the 18th, and a blanketing frost on the 19th. So the summer garden is officially done. 

Marigolds sporting our first frost.

Planting & Growing

The fall garden is planted, but it's been dry, so it's not growing well. I've been watering some of my seedlings, but chickens got into the garden and scratched up quite a few beds. Anything that survived all that may have a chance! How long it lasts will depend on how cold or mild it is this winter.


Early October yields (before the frost) were meal size pickings.

Sauteed okra, onions, and cherry tomatoes

Orange Glo watermelon

No waste with watermelon. Chickens and goats love the rind.

Kale, collards, and daikon leaves

Greens steamed in butter with some grated carrot

Oregano, rosemary, and thyme (in my olive oil kept feta cheese).

Asian persimmons on the tree

The variety is Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro. I chose it because it said to be heat and drought tolerant (which it has been!) It's a fuyu type, which are ready to eat when they turn orange (unlike the kind that are astringent until after frost). This is the first real harvest we've gotten from it. It's about time too, since I planted it in 2015!

Scooping out the gel and removing the seeds.

Persimmon ready for ???

Persimmon pancakes

Freezing the extra in muffin pans.

When frost became imminent, we harvested everything that might suffer damage.

Last of the peppers. These are Giant Marconi.

Last of the green slicing tomatoes

Hugelkultur sweet potato squash

The last of the cushaws.

The mature squash have a home in the pantry. They are like pumpkins in terms of preparation and flavor. The green ones taste like summer squash, and can be prepared the same way.

A tender green cushaw seasoned and sauteed in butter.

But green winter squash don't keep well. The littlest ones still have tender seeds, so they were sliced, blanched, and frozen. The larger green squash, like this one,

Immature (green) cushaw

have large, but immature seeds that are tough.The skin is still tender, so the seeds were scooped out and the rest of the squash was cubed and canned.

Canned "green" winter squash. Eat like summer squash.

I planted three types of sweet potatoes. These are the Georgia Jets.

Taste testing the sweet potatoes required a sweet potato pie.


I'm trying something new this year. I found a YouTube video on how to overwinter pepper plants (https://youtu.be/x09X87UCZTI). I'm giving it a try.

Pepper plant pruned, potted, and ready to come in.

I only had two pepper plants this year, both purchased as 4-inch potted plants. This particular plant looked quite poorly most of the summer, and I kept thinking it was going to die. But the healthier looking plant died instead, and this one really perked up after a good rain and cooler temperatures. It was producing well until first frost threatened. So, it became my overwintering experiment. It would be great to get an early start on our peppers!


The problems this time of year aren't so much bugs or disease, but lack of rain and critters. That includes birds (including naughty chickens), chipmunks, skunks, or groundhogs. In fact, we found a young groundhog had set up it's winter home in one of the garden beds! Dan found the hole, and I came face to face with the groundhog chowing down on a chicory plant. We didn't want it demolishing the garden and we hate to waste anything, so the groundhog became . . . 

Garden Groundhog Soup

Now you know why I was looking for a recipe for groundhog. My small harvest amounts were perfect for making this soup. I added peeled tomatoes, onion, green beans, yam berries, cowpeas, kale, tatume summer squash, and previously canned bone broth. Our favorite winter lunch is soup, so here are four lunches, ready to heat and eat.

Okay, I think that's it. At the beginning of the month, I didn't expect this to be a very long post. But first frost changed that! 

How about you? Is your garden just ending, or just starting?


Jenn Jilks said...

What a season you have had!

Unknown said...

Good idea on the pepper plants. I need to do that before it gets too cold.

daisy g said...

Yes, fall is such a relief after the scorching days of summer.

Sounds like you've had a very productive garden and canning season. Y'all will be well prepared for the upcoming winter days.

We have a few things in raised beds, but are also experiencing a bit of dry weather. Looking forward to the first kale and lettuce harvest here in the Piedmont.

Enjoy the weekend!

Rosalea said...

Great post Leigh, (and your autumn pictures are lovely) It is so interesting to read about your growing seasons..so different from here. I am done and dusted!! (Well, greens and brassicas are still there, but there is a heavy frost this AM, so that may be it.) My pepper plant, that I pruned and potted up, is putting out new growth, and is blooming!! It will sure be an interesting experiment.

Leigh said...

Jenn, always! :)

Unknown, I hope it works. And I think I saw somewhere where someone did the same with tomatoes. It's too late for me to try that now, but maybe next year.

Daisy, those first fall harvested greens are the best! My lettuce seems to be a bust, however. I think something scratched them up or otherwise ate them.

Rosalea, thanks! Interesting about your pepper blooming. I'm wondering if I'll be able to keep it dormant! (Likely not?)

Mama Pea said...

Our garden, up here in northern Minnesota, is done, done, done! I'm still waiting for my horseradish plant and peppermint bed to turn "black" so I can cut them down but otherwise all is looking quite bare. I love how you've used every last little bit you can harvest from the garden before your frost turns it to mush. Talk about using every little bit for good nourishment! Sure adds to the old "self-sufficiency" way of living and feeding ourselves. I'd be curious to hear what the groundhog meat tastes like in your soup.

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I should have sampled the groundhog, but for some reason, I rarely sample things I'm cooking unless I'm concerned about seasoning. It was quite tender!

I'm glad too, that I heeded the frost warnings. Our forecasts aren't always correct, and I hated to finish things off (especially the pepper plant), but after the frost it was the right decision! Strange that our garden is done this early in the year.

Ed said...

Yesterday I went down to till it. The previous time I had been down there it has been to dry and hard to till but we had a 1.5" rain a few days earlier so I thought it would be now or never before it just froze.

The garden half we are going to let fallow next year I was able to scratch at it with the tiller. Despite the 1.5" of rain, it was still really hard. But I could scratch at the top inch of it and chop up the mulch and debris a little so I think it will be good enough when I seed it with clover in late winter.

I tried the other half of the garden but it was our pumpkin, squash, melon, gourd patch this year and though the vines were dead, they didn't chop up more than they just wrapped themselves into the tiller tines until the engine bogged down. So I guess I'll have to wait on winter to do it's thing and try it again in the spring.

I for one am ready for the next five or so months to rest up for next year's garden.

Michelle said...

What a great harvest. I love seeing seeing how you use all of it.

Leigh said...

Ed, something I've wondered about is water penetration into the soil after a long dry spell. I've noticed that when it's droughty here, I can get a couple inches of rain but the soil remains hard and dry 3 or 4 inches down. I don't have any answers for it; it's just an observation. At least you were able to do something! Getting even a little organic matter into (and on top of) the soil will help.

Michelle, thank you! We are slowly learning how to waste nothing.

PioneerPreppy said...

I tried cloning tomato plants to over Winter this year... I failed miserably :(

Leigh said...

PP, do you mean by taking vine cuttings and trying to root them? I've never tried that. Any idea what the problem was?

I'm wondering if I could dig up and re-pot a tomato plant like I did with the pepper plant. Too late now, but it's something I'll try in the future.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, The garden The Cowboy kept at The Ranch this year (which was spectacular) is starting to die off as we are getting into the low 40's; the garden in New Home is largely planted except for the seeds I ordered just before I left. My understanding is we have had a great deal of rain last week, so I am interested to see what it looks like when I return.

I have used the wood stove all week this week, not precisely because I have to, but because it makes me happy.

Quinn said...

I'll probably pick all the corbaci peppers today so this was perfect timing to read about overwintering pepper plants. If one plant has all nice peppers, I'll try to prune it way back and keep it, but I think it would have to go in a pot in the house. (Thanks for your comments on Comptonia, Leigh. I'm going to try to post a little something every day for a while, to get back into the swing of it.)

Leigh said...

TB, a wood stove is one of the most comforting things in the world!

Sounds like your fall garden is off to a really good start! I hope it does well.

Quinn, well, I'm glad you're back to blogging again! The overwintering of a pepper plant certainly seems like a good experiment. At least, I hope so!

R's Rue said...

That pie looks so good.

Leigh said...

Regine, it was! :)