Lemon Cucumber, far left and front center right; Ronde de Nice zucchini, center and left of center, resting on Sweet-Spicy red pepper. Striped German tomato below Sweet Sunrise yellow pepper. Squash blossom, blue Borage flowers, Renee’s Climbing Spitfire Nasturtium and Aunt Ada green beans. Photo: Judy Isacoff

NATURE’S TURN: Savor summer’s beauty, wild and domestic, at the turn of the season

Three hefty peppers, solid and as if carved into rippling curves, decorated my dinner table, sculptures commemorating summer’s last days.

September 21 – October 12, 2020

Mount Washington — Fresh garden and farm-to-table fare will continue to excite our senses well into autumn, even as painterly displays of red and gold peppers and tomatoes, hanging in deep green foliage, yield their place to the coloring of the hills.

Spurred on by the inevitability of killing frost, I harvested all tender crops over the weekend. Three hefty peppers, solid and as if carved into rippling curves, decorated my dinner table, sculptures commemorating summer’s last days.

Salad bowl. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Arranged in a salad, the 19th-century French heirloom lettuce, Merveille de Quatre Saisons, or Marvel of Four Seasons, lives up to its name. Successive sowings produced attractive heads through summer and now into autumn. The heads are festive bouquets suitable for ornamental gardens and borders. Dark red lettuces are more nutritious than green (Jo Robinson, “Eating on the Wild Side”).

Tender and frost-hardy edibles mingle in the salad bowl. Find intriguing and delicious Lemon cucumber discs alongside those of the thin-skinned Armenian variety; sweet Green Zebra and Amish Paste tomatoes are arranged under edible flowers. There are spicy nasturtium, cucumber-flavored blue to pink borage and mild Johnny Jump-Ups. The spray of garlic chive stars, picked apart and nibbled or broadcast over the salad, are a treat for garlic lovers.

Daikon and carrot planting. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Frost-hardy daikon radish, sown five weeks ago, and Nantes carrot, three weeks before, hold the promise of fresh eating in a few weeks. Considering predictions of unusually early frost followed by a reprieve, I have row covers ready to extend the season for a few plantings.

Butternut squash. Photo: Judy Isacoff

This butternut squash is ripening on the vine to assure its storage potential into spring 2021. Go to https://properlyrooted.com/when-to-harvest-butternut-squash/ for details of when to harvest. A picture of my autumn garden is not complete without reference to the cover crops that are already established where beds were cleared earlier in the season and the need to secure seeds for cover crops yet to be sown. Winter rye can be planted into late October or as soon as crops are harvested.

The autumnal equinox arrives tomorrow, Sept. 22. Marking the change of season, one of my favorite plants, autumn clematis (Clematis Virginians), also known as Virginia Virgin’s Bower, is most likely spotted in wet meadows and pondside.

Autumn clematis. Photo: Judy Isacoff


First Frost Date NEW MARLBORO, MA (01230)
Nearest Station: FALLS VILLAGE, CT

°F 10% 50% 90%
36° Sep 3 Sep 16 Sep 29
32° Sep 13 Sep 27 Oct 11
28° Sep 22 Oct 8 Oct 23


Data provided by the National Centers for Environmental Information from https://morningchores.com/frost-dates/