Green Side Up

      October changes everything. We always have the first frost in October, which puts an end to annuals and most bulbs, and most of the standard garden vegetables. It's not time to give up yet though, just change the face of the garden a bit. Chrysanthemums and ornamental kale can replace the color missing from the loss of the annuals, and plantings with evergreens can still be kept neat and proper. Weeds of course will still grow and need to be pulled, and the final mowing of the lawn should take place late in the month to skin it down to the ground. It's Easier raking leaves that way and there's less decay under the pre-raked leaf piles and eventually snow.

      Don't give up on vegetables yet. brussels sprouts, kale, carrots, beets, rhutabagas, turnips, pasnips jerusalem artichokes and salsify all seem to tolerate a litle frost, especially if protected with mulch. Brussels sprouts, kale and pasnips can stand hard freezes, and with some mulch and in the case of buried parsnips, a cover to keep ice and snow off so the ground can be dug, can be harvested though all but the coldest part of the winter. Squash and pumpkins will last six months if kept cool and dry, and cut with three to six inches of stem left. Beets, carrots, turnips and rutabagas will keep well in a cellar and the last green tomatoes can be harvested before frost to make piccalili or put in a brown paper bag in a cool, dry, dark place and will ripen enough for Danger Kitchen Tomato And Basil Pasta or Baked Fish And Vegetables.

      Keep watering the evergreens as well. They take water all year, and get much less of it after the ground freezes. It's not over but ... It's getting close. Time to start planning next year.

Should Be Pickin' (even now)

Beets, Carrots, Kale, Lettuce, Radishes, Rutabagas, Sugar Snap Peas, Winter Squash, pumpkins, pasnips, last of the Green Tomatoes for mince meat and piccalilli.

This is as good as it gets. Early October marks the end of the growth season with a killing frost not far behind. It seems like it's worth taking a picture to serve as a reminder when it's the beginning of February and there seems to be no end to winter in sight.

01 As Good As it Gets

02 Elephant Ear

This Elephant Ear takes fisrt prize for growth this year. Hopefully the bulbs will survive winter storage and have an even better season next year.
There was no chance to take a better picture because the very next morning ... This happened. The temperature dropped twenty-five degrees over night and the frost did it's worst. A very depressing sight. 03 The Very Next Morning

04 See Ya

The wilted brown mess in the middle of the evergreens is all that's left of the caladium, salvia, marigolds, coleus and dahlias that were the source of favorable comments from the neighbors just days ago. What a difference a day makes.
A close-up of a caladium, down for the count.

05 Caladium

06 Dahlia

This is a bad day to be a dahlia.
Like finding a survivor in the wreckage, a new caladium sprout was up before the weekend was over. That's what I like about plants. They never give up.

07 Survivors

08 From The Ashes

From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success. Or in this case, a new elephant ear sprout. A warm spell after the frost is responsible for this behavior.
Remember what this looked like just eight pictures ago?

09 What Happened?

10 Time To Go Inside

What this all means is it's time to get busy. All of the bulbs and tubers that can't tolerate freezing need to be dug up, dried, brought inside ans stored for the winter in peat moss or vermiculite. This is an Elephant Ear bulb just out of the ground. After washing off the loose dirt and insects, the stems will be cut away, the bulb will be dried for a few days and stored until next March or April, when they'll be potted inside to start, transfered to the green house (West end of the lumber dryer), and then planted outside in June.
No Chrysanthemums or Ornamental Kale were planted this year so any kind of floral gratification must come from arrangements like this, made by Rachael Paul of Eastside Marketplace in Providence Rhode Island.

11 Rachael's Arrangement

12 Make Like A tree And Leave

The first killing frost usually triggers another event: The Changing Of The Leaves. Aside from having to rake them out of the yard, this is the beginning of what may be my favorite time of year.
The big maple nearest to the shop drops first, Then the big maple in the center of the yard and finnaly the maples along the property line and the river across the street. At least they're all down within three weeks or so. Oaks tend to release a few every week all winter long and into the spring.

13 Here We Go Again

14 The Victims

The first order of business is to get the dead annuals out of the garden. They look messy and dreary and can provide insects a good place to winter over, so out they go.
Raking leaves out front was easy last year. The new evergreen plantings seem to collect small piles of leaves around them every night as the wind pick up and swirls around the front of the building. 15 Raking Challenge

16 Keep On Waterin' Baby

It's not time to put all of the hoses away yet. It's a good idea to keep the ground around the evergreens moist up until the ground freezes so they have ample water to make it through the winter. The greatest danger is from dehydration. surrounding them with burlap or heavy plastic keeps the wind from blowing through and drying the leaves, and mulch prevents frost heaves from exposing the roots. A good idea when they're young.
TK enjoying some outside time next to a pile of hoses on the lumber dryer tracks. She doesn't get out much now after the weather turns cold.

17 TK And Hoses

18 Ready For Winter

Here's one of the front plantings raked clear of leaves, weeded, cleared of dead plants and turned over and ready for next year. Nothing left to do but mulch and protect the evergreens.
October's windy weather means it's time for weekly stick patrol. The big maples dump a ton of sticks in the yard every week and these need to be picked up for esthetic reasons and they make raking leaves a more difficult task.

19 Stick Patrol

20 Shingle Patrol?

The winds also remove a fair portion of old shingles from the south side of the roof. No reason to panic though, there's two layers of shingles on that side so there's no danger of leaks for a while. Time to look into a new roof in the spring. I'm not looking forward to doing that. It'll be like shingling a parking lot on a forty-five degree angle. Not fun. Probably only thirty truck loads of old shingles.
A pile of hoses used to water the annuals and grass ready to be stored for the winter.

21 The Hose Knows

22 Lady Bugs

The whole place was crawling with Lady Bugs for a week. Does anyone have a Farmers Almanac? Is this a good sign or a bad one?
A load of wood and hoses ready to come inside the shop.

23 Wood And Hoses

24 Valves And Stuff

A collection of valves, sprinklers, nozzles and tools cleaned and stored for winter.
This reminds me of an illustration of all of the artificial body parts available now. You know the one. I think the Plastics Industry Council or somebody like that sponsors the ad. Need a new faucet installed? See ya next year.

23 Need A New One?

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