I'm amazed at how nice our autumn has been thus far. It's rained some, helping to refresh the water table and our drinking water wells. But mostly it's been a lot of really beautiful days with pretty fall colors. At our house, we haven't yet had a frost as we're in a sheltered spot, but we did wrap the cherry tomatoes two nights ago with sheets. I almost wanted to keep them up as ghostly Halloween decorations, but that would defeat the purpose of keeping the tomato plants producing.
I've been a bit remiss in keeping my online harvest log up-to-date, but I did just catch up - so please navigate to My 2010 Harvest Log. The season isn't completely over, but it's certainly winding down. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I will still be harvesting some spinach, arugula and carrots from the garden well into November.
So - I've learned a couple things this year -
1) Squash plants grow like kudzu. Interestingly, I had great success with the winter squashes (butternut and acorn) and only a very few zucchini and summer squash. Somehow my friends and family members are much more enthused about taking home free hard squash than summer squash... so maybe this was a good thing.
2) I do not need 12 tomato plants. Without doing the math, I know that I've harvested over 40 pounds of tomatoes from my garden this year. The vines kept overwhelming their supports and threatening to topple completely, even with fairly routine sucker-removal.
3) Peppers do well with a little spa treatment. Some nice farmers who sold us pepper starts told us to sprinkle Epsom salt around the base of the plant. Apparently the magnesium is in high demand for peppers.
4) Even though I measured out my plant spacing this year, I still crowded my plants. My nasturtiums barely grew at all until I tore out the cucumber vines, and then they just flourished late summer and into the fall.
5) I also just learned a new trick - you can use sawdust as mulch. I'm really quite excited to learn this because we have a lot of sawdust from woodworking and I need to mulch a lot of garden space. We planted raspberries, grapes, strawberries and blueberries late this summer, which all need some sort of bed mulch. The key is to put down some nitrogen fertilizer (compost or other type) before the sawdust.
6) Ran into trouble with bitter lettuce and early bolting of greens during the summer. Part of this may have been attributable to the droughty conditions and my lackluster watering habits in August.
Stay tuned for my big dreams for next year's garden and to see how the late harvests turn out!