Mt. Washington, October 8, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff

NATURE’S TURN: Intoxicating tree colors surround the autumn garden

Stored in a cool, dark location, green tomatoes ripen slowly and develop good flavor. Check often. I’ve enjoyed juicy Brandywines into early December.

October 10 – 23, 2016

Feverfew with flowers foreground, Three Beet Grex, climbing morning glory. Nasturtiums beyond; asparagus far left, October 7, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff.
Feverfew with flowers foreground, Three Beet Grex, climbing morning glory. Nasturtiums
beyond; asparagus far left, October 7, 2016. Photo: Judy Isacoff.

Mt. Washington — Ambrosia for the eyes – deep pink red maple next to orange-topped, golden sugar maple and burgundy-leafed ash – rainbows in the treetops touch blue heaven. On the ground in my polyculture garden, a lush expanse of the bright greens of Three Root Grex beet and winter wheat grass contrast with gnarly, dull, blue-green dinosaur kale, feathery asparagus fronds and strappy leaves of leek. Shiny, long-leafed parsnip, lacey carrot and umbrella-like nasturtium keep going. But there are more plants that are fading, their energy gone into seed heads and spikes, the fruits of their flowers.

On September 25, a light frost left its mark on yacon and basil while voluptuous – though marginally productive – tomato, bean and morning glory vines were among the unharmed tender annuals. Frost might greet many readers as this post is opened. If your tomatoes still stand, pull sound fruit from the vines and place, uncrowded, in single layers in cardboard boxes. Stored in a cool, dark location, green tomatoes ripen slowly and develop good flavor. Check often. I’ve enjoyed juicy Brandywines into early December.

Garden Craft: Wild Miller Farm garlic braid or swag as shown at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair. www.wildmillergardens.com Photo by Judy Isacoff.
Garden Craft: Wild Miller Farm garlic braid or swag as shown at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair. www.wildmillergardens.com Photo by Judy Isacoff.

As the last frost tender plants are cleared from the garden and preparations are made for seeding more winter rye, note that, according to Eliot Coleman, the onion family grows best in beds not preceded by a green manure. Find The New Organic Grower on Coleman’s website.

Garlic bulbs on cleaned stems with interwoven everlasting flowers by Annalisa Wild Miller, Palermo, ME www.wildmillergardens.com, as shown at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair, September 25, 2016. Photo by Judy Isacoff.
Garlic bulbs on cleaned stems with interwoven everlasting flowers by Annalisa Wild Miller,
Palermo, Maine, as shown at the MOFGA Common Ground Fair,
September 25, 2016. Photo by Judy Isacoff.

In ground cleared and not yet sown to a cover crop, consider planting garlic, a rather carefree crop that matures in late July or early August. If possible, choose a deeply dug garden bed in which no onion family plants have grown for at least three years. Spread about 3 inches of compost, turn it in, rake smooth, and follow tips at https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-garlic-zmaz09onzraw.

My garlic bulbs will be buried during the coming week. On the occasion of preparing to plant this crop, which spans this year and next, I pulled out a new copy of the template that outlines the permanent, free-edge raised beds of my garden. I looked at planting records completed each year since 2005 to determine where to plant the garlic and other alliums, allowing for a three-year crop rotation. And so begins the planning of my 2017 garden.

Opportunities to participate:

October 11, 7:30 p.m. Film showing – Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story. Donations welcome.

..….in Biodynamic Agriculture, the compost site can be viewed as a central organ within the farm individuality. It is a vital place of biological transformation……

https://natureinstitute.org/calendar/index.htm

October 13, 15 & 30: Film showing – Seed: The Untold Story. For information, https://berkshiregrown.org/getinvolved/

October 22: Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson speak at the Mahaiwe, sponsored by Schumacher Society for a New Economics. Epic event sold out. For recordings/publications/mailing list subscription: https://www.centerforneweconomics.org/publications

Resources:

https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-garlic-zmaz09onzraw

Eliot Coleman, https://www.fourseasonfarm.com/books/index.html

2 thoughts on “NATURE’S TURN: Intoxicating tree colors surround the autumn garden

  • Hi Judy,
    Great column! I’ve always heard that the gases that apples give off help tomatoes ripen. I’ve got my tomatoes in a bag with some Macs. Any truth to that?
    Best,
    A gardening neighbor

  • Good to hear from you, Harriet. Yes, it’s clear from many sources that ethylene gas produced in apples is a “ripening hormone.” I don’t have experience to prove it because I’ve always wanted the tomatoes pulled before a frost to ripen slowly.

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