|Late afternoon on Thanksgiving weekend|
This was the turning point weekend. Some vegetables like kale, carrots, beet greens and leeks appreciate a bit of frost to bring out their sweetness. There is always a bit of uncertainty about when to harvest winter squash; people seem sharply divided about whether it is just before or after a light frost. Regardless of the point of view, this seemed like the time to bring in any squashes left in the garden.
|Bull's Blood Beet Greens|
There was no question about the snap and shelling beans. I picked what were ready on Saturday and by Monday morning those left on the plants had turned to mush.
|The new greens bed|
The greens have made a comeback; heirloom lettuces, spinach, sorrel, even some self seeded peas. They will withstand ground frost and keep growing, albeit a little modestly, until the ground freezes hard and daytime temperatures hover close to 0C. All spring and summer I kept seeding kale and mustard. The germination rate was minimal and those few that did grow were ravaged by insect damage. The past few weeks we have had the cool temperatures and moisture they have been craving all along. Their happiness shows in the big, deeply coloured leaves with almost no insect damage. It's interesting how over and over again the healthiest plants have little problem with insects. It is always the weak and sickly plants that are then further disadvantaged by damage from pests and diseases.
|Red Russian Kale|
October is the month to plant garlic - with the optimum date being on the full moon. With two this year you'd think I could have managed to accommodate either the one on Oct. 1 or the blue moon on Oct. 29. But I was away at the beginning of the month. And with the heavy frost on Sunday night I felt like an anxious mother wringing my hands, wondering if the ground might be frozen solid by the end of the month. So the garlic went in on Monday.
|Seed garlic, the new stock on the left and the mature heads on the right|
After the freshly harvested garlic has been hung to air dry for a couple of weeks and you're ready to store it for the winter, you choose your best heads to use as seed. It is also a good idea to plant some bulbils if you have let some of the garlic flower and go to seed. These little bulbils become new seed for the future - a way of ensuring your stock stays healthy and is less likely to become prey to ongoing pest and disease problems.
|A clove ready to be planted, flat end down|
|The new garlic bed clothed in its blanket of fall leaves|