Autumn Update: Gearing the Garden Down

November 10th, 2009 - filed under: The Farm » Flora


Question: What does a vegan do with a wonderful set of egg cups?
Answer: Tomato display, of course!

Much to my surprise, my summer crops have lasted well into autumn, and continue to fill my kitchen even today. But things have certainly changed around the ol’ farm, as you can see below.


The grass is dying back and the ground is littered with plum tree leaves. The potato tires have been re-stacked and filled in, to serve as flower planters come spring. The left side bed has been cleared and mulched. The sunflowers are downed and the brush has been tidied. The right side bed hosts the small fall garden. All the clean-up and spring prep is complete, and MAN it feels good to head into winter with a clean slate.

Still, the harvest keeps trickling in! Why just today I plucked a bunch of tomatoes. In November! Granted, they’re not as flavorful as they were a few months back, but they’re homegrown and that alone is good enough for me.


This is what the tomato bed looks like these days, drying out and dying back – but still fighting:


I planted a bunch of pumpkins this year and they started off so strong. But then they just stalled, flowering and re-flowering and re-flowering again, but never producing any fruit. I’m still not quite sure what went wrong, but at least the flowers were pretty:


And then finally one little punkin’ popped out. Poor thing, it’ll never make it now. But look! It’s so cute!


I had all but forgotten about the peppers I started from seed, waaaaay back in early spring. But I was pulling up a beet the other day, and my hand grazed the small stunted bell pepper plant. I’d overlooked them because the green just blends right in with the foliage. But there were actual bells on there! Two baby bells in fact.


And these pretty peppers came in as well – I just picked them today. I’d scavenged the seedlings, half dead, out of the free pile at the nursery. Does anyone know what they are? They remind me of peperoncinis, so I’m thinking of pickling them!


And finally, the actual autumn crops. These have sort of been demolished by feisty chickens scratching for bugs, but I’m still holding out hope. At least you can get an idea of what they looked like a few weeks ago, of what the potential was. *sigh*

The lettuce (with beetlings in the background):


And the kale:


And that’s all I’ve got for now. Honestly, I never expected to be giving garden updates in November, and I’m just delighted its lasting this long.

So what about you dears? Are you still getting your green on?

  • Minna

    Ooh.. Nice. Really cute tomatoes! I love the taste of ripe yellow tomatoes. Yum.

    I wish I could eat veggies and fruits from my own garden… But right now it’s just impossible. In the future though, I see it as the only way to exist! It must be so fun.

    Right now, backpacking in Australia, I get to work for huge commercial farms. Tomorrow I start my first farm job – sorting and packing mangoes. It’s gonna be really hard work, they told us to bring 4-5 litres of water to drink! I hope the farmer isn’t gonna be too harsh on us.. And I hope we get free mangoes (:

  • Obiben

    I remember my uncle used to cut most if not all but one flower in the pumpkin plant, depending he wanted a few right-sized ones or simply that humongus 500 pounds one. If you let all the flowers and buds go, your pumpkins stay much much smaller!

  • Kelly

    Did you know you can eat pumpkin vines and leaves?? Just saute them up with a little olive oil and garlic and…yum! My sweet Cambodian colleague introduced me to them last year. I never even realized… :o)

  • Christa

    Hmm, in relation to your pumpkin problem, I had the same issue this year. I had 2 big pumpkin plants and one butternut. And all I got was one very large pumpkin and one very nice butternut. And while their bounty was much appreciated, there should have been much more.
    I work at a farm back home on Vancouver Island, and they told me that what seemed to be happening was the flowers were not being fertilized… Which means, we need more pollinators! Save the honey bee!!!!! They are actually classified as endangered on Vancouver Island… so plant bee attracting flowers and let the clover grow!
    Get rid of all chemicals in your lawns and gardens!(though I’m sure you already do that…)

  • Austin

    My covered balcony garden is still growing greens(kale, green chard, sorrel, and some lettuce) quite well, despite the cold weather. I cut back my oregano down to the ground runners and it’s a happy camper too. This is the first time I’ve actually been able to keep my garden this far into the year. Maybe I’m finally learning. :)

  • Sayward

    @ Minna – That sounds like difficult work, but what an amazing experience. And they better hook up the free mangoes! =D

    @ Obiben – Interesting, thanks for the info. I’ll definitely research that and give it a shot next year.

    @ Kelly – I did *not* know that! I’ve heard of squash blossoms, but never pumpkin vines . . . hmmm, this sets my brain to scheming . . . Thanks!

    @ Christa – I definitely think it could be a fertilization problem, but I’m not so sure about pollination. I swear I saw bugs and bees all up in those flowers every single time I was out there. I’d be pretty surprised if they didn’t get pollinated.

    But I agree, save the honey bees!

    @ Austin – Isn’t it wonderful!? And I bet it is a learning curve. I feel like for me, every year just gets better and better, and I’m still pretty much a beginner (at least compared to many others). But congrats on the November bounty. So rewarding! =)

  • Dylan

    Sayward, re: pumpkins- you planted too late. I don’t remember exactly when but I think you said in an earlier post that you planted starts in June or July. April is not too early if the soil is warm (a week of sunny weather) but July is definitely too late. I remember thinking at the time (if I didn’t say) that you would get nice plants but no fruit. Two notes: In my experience the first flowers never set fruit and squashes/pumpkins set male flowers first (I think they are less costly to produce so that when the more ‘expensive’ female flowers come on with their ovaries and thick stems they are not wasted because of a lack of male flowers present).

    Re: chilies. They look a lot like chile padron/padrones ( ). Pepperoncinis is also a good guess. Both are hard to come by so you should be proud to have either. In the article linked above they claim they sell theirs for $6.00/1/4lb! I have paid $6.00/lb wholesale for them and have had them as wonderful tapas at Pata Negro here in town (NW Portland).

    Re:how is my green getting on and honeybees-my garden tends to be green in spring and brown in fall. The good part of this is that many , if not most of my plants are allowed to go to flower in the summer and are especially good for honeybees: Melissa (Bee Balm), Caryopteris (Bluebeard, Chinese Mint), Inula (Elecampane, Elf Dock), Dipsicus (Teasel), mustards and rapini, and chicories (Red Rib Dandelion, Radicchio, Blue Sailors, Succory). Now, they are popular with the little seed eating birds (Lessor Goldfinch, Juncos, and numerous others I can’t identify) along with Evening Primrose seed heads, and Lactuca serriola (Blue Lettuce, Compass Plant). So I feel good about my contribution to the local ecology while at the same time totally enjoying the view.

  • Sayward

    @ Dylan – Yay! I was waiting (hoping) to hear from you. =)

    I remember when you said that about the pumpkins! And I thought, ‘well, I’ll just prove him wrong’, haha. I didn’t realize you were our resident expert, back then! (but I’m me, so I still would have tried . . . )

    That’s great news about the chilis! What a lovely lucky find. And I think I’ve tasted them here at the PSU Saturday farmer’s market. But, I’m still thinking I may pickle them. I’m dying for a pickling project!

    I’ve been doing a bit of bird watching out my windows lately, as well. I don’t know any of the species but they sure are cute. Isn’t it nice to just let go of the garden reins and let nature do it’s thing for a while? I love this time of year. =)

  • Poookie

    I think the peppers are Japanese shishito peppers which are great grilled, pan-fried, or tempura’ed. Saw them on this website:

  • Sayward

    @ Poookie – Yeah I decided to forego the pickling and panfried instead. Thanks for the link! Deeeelicious!

  • Lisa Hoffman

    That IS the cutest pumpkin I have ever seen! Hey, can’t you eat the flowers? I think I’ve had them in salads. The peppers look pretty and tasty. LOVE the egg cups! What a beautiful display. Happy Fall!!

  • Sayward

    @ Lisa Hoffman – Yup, I think you can eat the blossoms, I think people fry them (though I have not yet tried). Happy fall to you too! Talk soon!