11/8/13: In the garden this week

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The Japanese mustards I planted in August continue to do well; now that they’re a bit too potent to eat raw, we toss them into soups and stews. I just harvested the last of the carrots, and there are small kale plants growing bravely (bottom of photo). I seeded them too close to the eggplant, so they didn’t get enough sun, but now that the eggplant is done for the year (final harvest was almost 5 pounds), they’re growing a bit. The arugula is quite sharp tasting but useful in small amounts.

I took one large trash bag to the vegetable garden, intending to finish the clean up, but of course it will take another 3 or 4 bags. And that’s really just the marigolds and nasturtiums, eggplant and basil. On a plot that measures about 6 x 16!

We’ve finally gotten some much-needed rain, although not enough if you’ve planted woody plants this fall, so keep watering newly planted material, including lawn. In addition, consider the following tasks:

– continue to harvest your fall vegetable garden: cool-weather crops such as  cabbages and mustards (brassicas).

– keep the grass long (3″ or more) to reduce mowing times. Mow with a mulching mower and leave the clippings on the lawn, where they will serve as natural fertilizer. There is no need to water unless you reseeded this fall (see below).

– if you reseeded the lawn this fall, continue to water them until the temperature stays below 40 degrees.

– if you have places where grass won’t grow, consider planting something else next spring!

– as perennials finish blooming, leave the dead flowers on the plants. Collect seeds as they ripen; let most remain to feed the birds next winter.

– think about next year’s perennial garden: what needs to be cut back, moved, divided, replanted?

– we have had a killing frost, so remove dead plants: tender annual flowers such as marigolds and nasturtiums, eggplants, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes. Compost healthy plant material, discard plants that were attacked by insects or disease.

– take advantage of the relatively cool weather to do garden chores, such as fall cleanup, but do not prune now that woody plants are actively shedding their leaves. We’ve gotten some rain, so do some weeding, especially of winter annuals that will bloom and set seed in very early spring.

collect the leaves you need for the coming year’s compost pile

– many trees and shrubs can be planted in fall, but be sure to provide winter protection (mulch) and to keep watering until the ground freezes and again in spring if needed

Enjoy the last of the fall colors–now that we’ve had some rain, the remaining leaves will come down quickly.

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