End of Summer 2015 Garden

With the promise of our first real rain storm coming the middle of next week, and temperatures 'falling' in to the 70's during the day and the 50's at night, we decided it was time to say goodbye to the summer crops and start getting geared up for winter. Tom cleaned out the gutters and made sure the rain barrels were all set up, and I started pulling out the peppers, tomatoes, basil, and sweet potatoes. After crops are taken out and composted, the drip lines are removed for inspection, the top layer of soil sees a bit of hoeing, and then drip lines are replaced. There's no more time for cover crops - so the beds we cleared today simply got a layer of soiled chicken hay on top. Where cover crops are still growing, I left them in, until next week. Then those beds will get some sort of mulch as well (I used up one compost bin full of hay, and surprised a rat in the process - I am ashamed to say I really hollered when that fellow came scampering out) and we'll build hoop houses over the beds that still need them (That's ten beds to cover, yet). As soon as that happens, winter crops can go in.

There were still lots of hot peppers on the vine, so those were collected as I removed the plants, and Tom will do something with them - hot sauce?

I also removed every viable tomato and sweet pepper. The ripe tomatoes will get eaten right away, any that are not ripe will be left on the counter to ripen. The sweet peppers will get eaten in the next week as well. A lot of green tomatoes went to the chickens.

A picked green tomato will not ripen off the vine, but those tomatoes that have started changing color will indeed ripen inside, and just need a few days to do so.

The basil was cut and spread out on top of the bed where it grew, to rot under straw like a green manure.

And the sweet potatoes? An interesting experiment. Not a fail or a success, but something in between. I've learned that next year I need to get them in the ground earlier, because they didn't get very big. Also, I should probably let them grow all the way up to frost, as cold weather improves their nutrition and flavor. It's just that they take up a lot of room and they are a long season crop. Just takes some planning, like garlic and shallots.

Sweet potatoes need high humidity for storage, and we don't have that at the moment, so maybe it's just as well that there weren't very many harvested. I need to figure out a way to cure them for a week or so to improve their flavor - high temps and high humidity - some sort of cloche or cold frame would do. Then we can eat them next weekend. It sure was fun to dig these out.

We are enjoying petite tart apples from a surprise second crop after my pruning.

It's finally starting to feel like Fall.

North Garden after removal of crops (except for some buckwheat cover crops);
sure does look brown.
What's left of the North Pollinator garden. This is tomorrow's project.
South Garden, again, except for some buckwheat, no crops
South Pollinator garden, still going strong
The Back, or East, garden - beehive, asparagus patch,
water feature, ribes, mock orange, pistache trees,
manzanita, ceonothus, and toyon. plus the parts of the chicken
tractor we haven't put away yet.

The Front, or West, or Woodland garden. All the asters and gumplants have
ended their bloom, and are hopefully dropping seed for next year
I didn't get pictures of the driveway strip today, but the herbs are all flowering, and the raspberry and blackberry vines are putting out new canes. The salvias and sages are starting to slow down their bloom, though there's still a lot of pollinator action in this area.