This past week, we’ve been eating the very last of the summer produce. While there are still fall and overwinter plants in the ground, eating the last of the tomatoes and peppers makes it clear that summer in the garden is over.
According to the weather forecast, we should get the first of below freezing nights this week, transitioning us into late fall. Which reminds me that I really need to spend some time cleaning up the garden and preparing it for winter.
I’m a lazy gardener as of late, and while it may not show at harvest time thanks to perennial and easy summer plants, it definitely shows in terms of how long it takes me to clean up the raised beds at the end of the season (note: I ended up taking a break from this post to do a little clean up and plant some garlic and gather up the last of the green tomatoes after I wrote about how badly I needed to do it – so yay accountability).
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October Autumn Harvest
The garden harvest has changed pretty significantly since my last update back in July. I mention it from time to time in the Frugal Five, but follow me on Instagram if you want more regular updates. Though, of course, those updates slow quite a bit during the garden off season. One of these years I will set up a greenhouse or hoop houses, but for now, I stick to what can grow while exposed to the elements.
Like I mentioned, we picked and ate the last of the tomatoes and bell peppers for the year. Saturday night was homemade tomato soup with that last tomato plus homegrown garlic as well as some bay leaves from my mother in law’s garden. Last week was the bell peppers stuffed with cheese (leftover from our neighborhood Oktoberfest) wrapped in bacon. Both were very tasty meals and a good way to say goodbye to the summer produce until next year.
I also want to note that this was the first year I had success with full sized bell peppers. Previously, I’d gotten mini bells to grow, but the regular sized ones had never done well in the past. I’m not exactly sure what I did so differently this year other than a bit extra fertilizer, but I’m hopeful that this is the new normal and that I can grow bell peppers now.
Otherwise, we have one final zucchini left that I plan to cut up and cook this week, and I harvested the Butterkin squash I grew from seeds sent to me from Budget Epicurean. I haven’t cooked one yet, but I’m looking forward to trying them out (and saving seed to grow them again next year).
Finally, there are a few stragglers left in the garden: carrots, herbs, and a few hazelnuts. The strawberries attempted another round but I don’t expect any of them to ripen now with the colder weather. And there is still a burst of color left in the garden as some of the marigold flowers continue to hang on.
What’s Growing – Overwinter Vegetables
Just like the last few years, garlic is already sprouting out of the raised beds that it grew in previously. While we try and do a decent job of pulling them all up each summer, it’s inevitable that more than a few stay in the ground and become the spring garlic the next year. This isn’t ideal because crop rotation is best to keep pests and plant disease away, but I haven’t found an easy way to avoid this, and I don’t want to have to turn over the entire bed in detail to get them out. And so far, it’s turned out well for us with extra spring garlic to pull in March and April.
We also have celery, snap peas, and more carrots that might hopefully be big enough to harvest some this fall, though the cold snap might put an end to anything growing much bigger until spring. If that ends up being the case, I’ll just pull and eat the peas as the shoots, which are quite tasty as well. The broccoli, kale, Brussels, and cabbage are all large enough that they should make it through the winter, but won’t be harvested until early spring.
Our neighbors have grown Swiss Chard the last couple of years, and I’ve become quite fond of it, so I picked up some starts to grow myself this year (I was too late to start them from seed). That cost is what you’ll see as the one garden expense in October. The rain is back, so there is no minor increase in our water bill associated any more.
The one big cost this year was for the two new raised beds we built back in May ($434.39). If not for that, I’d be right on track to spend under $200 for the garden, just like 2018. Between saving a ton of seed and building hugenkultur beds that set up long term health of the soil, I really don’t spend a lot on the garden each year.
While the set up can be pricey, gardening can absolutely be a money saving endeavor if you don’t constantly give in to purchasing all the fun new seed varieties the seed catalogues show you. I got much better at this once I stopped looking through them. I’m weak-willed when it comes to seed catalogues, especially Territorial Seed. The same goes for wandering through plant nurseries. I’m better off just staying out.
Total costs, year to date:
I’ve been thinking lately about re-reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Anyone interested in a virtual book club? Would love to chat about local food, and that book is a good way to do that.