It’s been a few months since my last garden update (the most recent being in August), but my goal is to write these at least semi-regularly so I can keep track of what things look like year round, not just when the garden is in full swing and has plenty ready to harvest. That said, I did harvest some produce out of the garden year round last year, and I expect to do so this year as well.
I have yet to set up a greenhouse or even any sort of cold frame, so anything growing now is fully exposed to the elements. My goal is to eventually change that, but as the garden is in the front yard, I will want it to look a lot nicer than if it were tucked away from view in the backyard. That, and at least a few things do well enough without that season extending protection, so it hasn’t been high on my list of priorities thus far.
Currently, we aren’t harvesting anything other than a random onion or carrot here and there that have been hanging around for quite some time. We haven’t really gotten below freezing much yet, but I will want to pull up the last of them before we get a real cold snap. Since August, we harvested the last of the potatoes and just finished them off in the past few weeks, and I’ve done a lot of planting and preparing for winter in the garden. We also have plenty of garlic left even after I planted an entire bed of it last month. This time of year is quiet, but not fully dormant, when it comes to the garden.
Not an edible, but the last of the marigolds are still in bloom. Maybe half the plant has already lost its petals, but as long as we do have some flowers, I won’t be pulling up the plant entirely. Other than the little purple flowers on the heather by our front door, our yard won’t be very colorful until spring. I’ve never been a huge flower person, but seeing these bright yellow spots of sunshine this late in the year is helping to convince me that I really should consider growing some year-round color.
At this point in the year, I wish that I had planted a lot more carrots and onions this spring, but since I didn’t, we’re down to the very last few until I plant more in early spring. I also plan to pull up the last of this past year’s kale before too long; it’s been around for a while, so it will likely go into a soup or stew of some sort where it can be cooked down until it’s fully soft.
And of course, I’ve picked a ton of Swiss chard from our neighbor’s yard in the past few months, and they still have a ton left. Through that process, I’ve decided I will be planting quite a bit of Swiss chard in our garden next year as I’ve gotten quite fond of it lately. It’s especially good crisped in butter to be added to any variety of meals as well as a green addition to our weeknight fancy ramen dinners.
Last month, I decided I did want to have a reasonably significant fall/winter garden, so a good percentage of the raised beds and pots have something growing in them even now in mid-November.
Some of what is growing now was started from seed, but most of it is from garden starts from our local nursery. This isn’t because the plants are terribly difficult to start from seed, but instead because we had an overly busy end of summer / beginning of fall and I simply didn’t get around to planting seeds early enough, the exception being fava beans, garlic, and Black Seeded Simpson lettuce (although that last one only happened because I didn’t harvest the seed heads fast enough and they dropped to the soil and redeemed themselves).
The same actually happened to my Evergreen Bunching Onions (green onions), though I didn’t realize it right away because I did save most of those seeds to plant next year. It feels a bit late to have green onions sprouting, but we shall see what happens. Perhaps we’ll get lucky and have a few small ones for our dinner sometime later this winter.
Otherwise, I purchased starts for, and planted, celery, leeks, more kale, purple sprouting broccoli, and cabbage. The new kale is doing extremely well (unsurprisingly), so I will probably end up stealing a few leaves off the plants now and again once I’ve used up the last of the previous year’s planting.
Otherwise, this time of year is mostly preparation for the overwintering plants and cleanup from the bounty of summer. I’ve cleared out most of my tomato plants and other annuals at this point, though there is still some work to do in some of the beds. Leaving the stragglers isn’t exactly a problem at this point, except that it isn’t very pretty, and it just means that I’m leaving work off for myself come springtime if I don’t do it soon.
I have purchased some bags of mulch though and have done a decent job spreading it on the beds that do have fall and winter plants in them, but I have yet to do the same for the few beds still holding on to the last of the summer annuals. The mulch does help keep the weeds down, and it will protect the beds from runoff once we start to regularly get a lot of rain. Oddly, it’s still been pretty dry off and on up until this point. The mulch then eventually breaks down (hopefully hanging around long enough to hold moisture in the beds come next summer), and the nutrients help to build up the soil for the next planting rotation.
In addition to the mulch and compost that’s added this time of year as well as in early spring, I planted one garden bed with fava beans. They are delicious in their own right, but I am using them here first as a green cover crop, and the fact that they’re edible is really just a secondary bonus. Obvious from this picture, though: I still need to mulch this bed.
Now that we’re in November, I haven’t spent anything on the garden for the past four weeks or so, but our trip to the nursery in October did add up to a significant sum of money, almost doubling the amount of money I’ve spent on the garden for all of 2018. That said, spending up $200 for the entire year, considering how much food we have harvested, is pretty darn frugal, in my opinion. While I could obviously have cut down the cost of the trip to the nursery by actually getting around to starting my own seeds this fall, it still isn’t a significant number altogether.
September was the last month where it was dry enough to need to do any watering, and I’m likely overestimating the $10 added to our water bill that month. Now that it is raining (off and on at least), we won’t have to spend anything on water until at least May or June. Perk of our wet winters, to be sure.
Garden Cost, September: $10
Garden Cost, October: $74.32
Garden Cost, November: $0
Garden Cost, YTD: $169.64
Are you able to grow anything year round? Would you like to?