October in the Garden

Things have been a little busy here at Poppy Corners, and not in the garden way, which is unfortunate because, as all you gardeners know, fall is an important time in the vegetable beds! Both Tom and I have been working more, the kids have a ton of activities, and we spent last weekend at Camp Okizu, celebrating, as we do annually, Adam's recovery from cancer. So not much has gotten done in the yard. But that's life, you know? Part of being an urban gardener or farmer or do-it-yourselfer is that regular life just happens. So we plug on, making lists during the week (sometimes lists that bleed in to other lists) and getting done what we can get done in the extra time we find.

What that means in practical terms is that big projects, like the chicken tractor, are stalled halfway through construction.

this thing takes up half the patio

We hope to finish this soon so that we can put the chickens to work ripping out the bit of (dead) lawn we have left.

Small projects can get done whenever we have an entire weekend day, or even a weekday afternoon, free. Today, our first free weekend day in quite a while, a LOT is getting done. As I write, Tom is taking the hot peppers he harvested this morning and creating hot sauce and pickled peppers. I've harvested tomatoes, sweet peppers, the last of the green beans, cantaloupe, and a lone fig, with plans for making canned crushed tomatoes, roasted peppers for the freezer, and canned dilly beans later this afternoon or tomorrow. I've frozen a dozen eggs for the winter, removed the green bean crop from it's bed, and deadheaded the pollinator gardens. Later today or tomorrow I need to hoe the beds that are clear and add a cover crop of buckwheat, plus cut down flowering buckwheat in another part of the garden and add soiled chicken straw to those beds. We've fences to mend, weeds to pull, the bee hive to open and check (varroa season is upon us, though my bees look happy enough in the garden at the moment), paths to sweep, compost to turn and dig out... you get the picture.

The garden just keeps pumping out produce, even though much is going awry. Everything looks incredibly dry and dusty in the sunny areas, and in the shady areas we have a doozy of a case of powdery mildew. Chalk it up to wacky weather and a lack of regular temperatures or water. All I can say is, I'm tired of hot weather, and I'm ready for a real autumn. I know it's coming, because nighttime temperatures are low and the mornings are cool. That's heaven. Soon we can plant winter crops.

powdery mildew in the pumpkin patch...

... but pumpkins keep on growing...

... and gourds, too.
Butternut squashes are incredibly prolific....

... and we're still getting plenty of delicata squash as well.
We're still getting the stray cantaloupe if I can get to them
before the squirrels do. (that's buckwheat growing
behind, where the watermelons used to be.)
I harvested the last of the beans and took the vines out
and to the compost bin. 
The sweet potato vines are loving the heat. No
flowers yet. I'm wondering if they'll get a chance to
flower and set fruit before frost. Hope so.

basil has been one of my most successful
crops this year. I've made enough freezer pesto
to last us the whole year. Neighbors come harvest
basil whenever they want to, and we use it freely in
recipes and in the chicken coop as bedding. 

Hot peppers just keep on coming...

... as do the sweet peppers...

... and we're still getting plenty of tomatoes, of all kinds.
The north pollinator garden keeps producing flowers,
mostly tithonia and cosmos...

... and so does the south pollinator garden, with a variety
of California fuchsias, sages, and daisies along with
sunflowers and tithonia
Here in zone 9, and in our city of Walnut Creek, our first average frost date is December 15. October is usually a pretty warm (even hot) month, so I can wait until the beginning of November to plant winter crops. I've got seeds and tubers and cloves lined up, and supplies for more floating row cover tunnels, so we're all ready to go. If October changes course and things get cooler more quickly than usual, I'll get the crops in sooner. Meanwhile I figure I'll let the tomatoes, peppers, squashes, and melons continue to produce until then.

So, back in to the garden, and back to chores. Hope you're having a wonderful Saturday with lots of outside time, too!