NATURE’S TURN: Forests turn colors, gardeners turn earth and tender plants turn in

Meteorologists predict killing frost overnight from Friday the 16th of October through Monday the 19th.

October 12 – 25, 2015

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum): The true nobility of fall-coloring trees—challenged by many, rivaled by none. Traveling on a quiet country lane in Massachusetts, Indiana, or Pennsylvania on an October day yields a spectacular experience: the yellow, orange, and red palette of Sugar Maple. The soul is soothed, and one is able to cope with the tribulations of daily life.        

Michael A. Dirr, from Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs

Mt. Washington — What splendor, a broad oval column of sunlit yellow-orange sugar maple leaves reaching up to the blue sky, a silver-haired man in a powder blue shirt and jeans approaching it. We are forest dwellers and our green hills are turning into a dappled tapestry. Birch, red and sugar maples are in full color. White pines are two-toned as they prepare to shed bunches of three-year old needle leaves.

Radicchio lettuce Sunday morning, October 11, 2015, the first frost on Mt. Washington, Mass. Photo: Judy Isacoff
Radicchio lettuce Sunday morning, October 11, 2015, the first frost on Mt. Washington, Mass. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Twelve days into October, color in my garden persists in scarlet nasturtiums close to the ground, pink Japanese anemones atop tall stems, lingering rays of native sunflowers, daisy-like sprays of feverfew and voluptuous, drooping wands of burgundy-red amaranth. Shades of summery green prevail in rows of hearty brassica, parsnip, lettuce, parsley, sage, thyme, chive, turnip and radish.

Purple beans past prime for eating whole pod. Harvest for fresh beans. Photograph October 10, 2015 by Judy Isacoff
Purple beans past prime for eating whole pod. Harvest for fresh beans. Photograph October 10, 2015 by Judy Isacoff

Appearing still vital, the waning green of morning glory and bean vines reveals their vulnerability to the shortening days and cold nights. The Columbus Day holiday will be well spent sailing through the remnants of frost tender crops, turning them into the compost heap and turning finished compost into the ground for winter – which is preparation for the new world of spring.

Just in case you need the ultimate incentive to clear away annuals that are still begging to live another day but are clearly near the end of their life cycle, the

The Fedco Seed display at The Common Ground Fair, Unity, Maine, September 25, 2015. Photo: Judy Isacoff
The Fedco Seed display at The Common Ground Fair, Unity, Maine, September 25, 2015. Photo: Judy Isacoff

first light frost settled unevenly through Mt. Washington on the morning of the 11th. Meteorologists predict killing frost overnight from Friday the 16th through Monday the 19th.

It’s worth digging parsley, rosemary and even celery plants for use through the winter. Simply lift the entire root ball, pot and drench. I place these plants in an unheated room with large, south-facing windows. A door to the heated part of the house is cracked a few inches when the temperature drops below 30 degrees.

When planning a trip to Maine last month I was urged by many in the know to make every effort to go to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Fair. The Fair lived up to its reputation as the most authentic of country fairs, enhanced by its mandate to promote organic growing and sustainable technologies. Go to: https://www.mofga.org/TheFair/tabid/135/Default.aspx Mark your calendar for September 23, 24 and 25, 2016.

Resources:
The pride of Dan Tawczynski of Taft Farms: photographed on the truck just come in from the field on September 30, 2015. Photo: Judy Isacoff
The pride of Dan Tawczynski of Taft Farms: photographed on the truck just come in from the field on September 30, 2015. Photo: Judy Isacoff

https://berkshiregrown.org/

https://www.taftfarms.com/

https://www.nofamass.org/

https://www.fedcoseeds.com/

https://www.mofga.org/TheFair/tabid/135/Default.aspx

https://thegreenhorns.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/fermentation-festival-oct-17-great-barrington-ma/