We’re halfway through October, and the garden has definitely looked better. Much, much better. And, that’s not good. If this not-allowed front yard vegetable garden is going to be a success (eg. win over doubting neighbors and nah-saying HOA folk), then this seasonal slide into funk is going to have to stop.
So, cleanup. And, since I haven’t done a photo update in ages, I’ll be doing that here too.
But, before we begin, I’ve got a brag a little about my new compost bins. It’s a double bin, built entirely of just five ingredients: untreated fir two-by-fours, untreated furring strips (for decoration, of course!), wire mesh, deck screws and staples. Since it’s wood and metal, it’ll eventually rust and rot. But, that’s years away. Plenty of compost to be made before that happens.
(It’s also hidden behind the shed in the backyard, far far away from the front yard vegetable garden. It’ll be a slog to bring the clippings back here, but I couldn’t really figure out an attractive solution for composting in the front yard. Thought that might be pushing things a bit. I’m happy to be convinced otherwise, if anyone has any ideas for truly attractive compost bins…)
Here are the double bins, with their first load of garden clippings:
Back to the cleanup…
Honestly, I was surprised. I waded out into the garden expecting to find gobs of plants that needed pruning, pulling and composting. (And, yes, “waded” is definitely the correct word here. Things are a bit, er, overgrown at the moment). Instead, I only filled the wheelbarrow twice. The first load was a blend of worm-eaten kale, sad Thai basil, exhausted tomatoes and various weeds and grasses. The next load? Almost entirely corn stalks. That’s it:
I though about pulling out the cosmos. They’re taller than me, but most of them flopped over during the recent monsoons. But, they’re blooming. And, even if I didn’t like the blooms (I do. Who doesn’t like a cosmo?), the bees certainly do. Also, the butterflies. Decision made. The cosmos stay:
The cosmos aren’t the only flowers. Far from it. The gem marigolds are still blooming. The scabiosa too (which, incidentally, wins the “longest blooming” award for the season). And, the nasturtiums are blooming madly, wildly and better than they have all summer. Regular rains, cool nights and sunny days seem to make nasturtiums very very happy:
Also, liatris. The liatris is looking great, and the migrating monarchs seem to agree:
Lots of edibles are still producing too. Along the front path, the ‘Rainbow’ chard is looking especially good:
The ‘Purple de Milpa’ tomatillos are also doing great:
And, I’ve even got tomatoes. The few plants that survived Irene and Lee are rapidly putting on new growth, and even opening new flowers. If we have a mild October / early November, I might be able to pick a few fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ is especially happy:
All told, I collected two wheelbarrow loads of garden clippings and harvested a collection of tomatillos, peppers and tomatoes. The garden doesn’t look awful, but it could certainly look better. And it will, next year.
Any tips to offer for making a graceful transition from summer to winter? I know I can do some simple things, like plant out basil, lettuce and other fast-growing crops for a fall harvest. But, I’m sure there’s a lot more I could do. What works in your garden?