Falling Into Fall

The equinox is just around the corner, and soon we will be heading toward the dark days. The chickens are molting rather then laying (Sally remaining our reliable exception, of course). The temperatures (especially in the early morning hours) are cooler, and though we are still several weeks away from frost, the garden has shifted from the lush greens and vibrant reds of high summer to the mellow golds and dusky purples of autumn. I am always sad to see summer go, but there are compensations.

Our very small pumpkin patch has produced a good number of heirloom Long Pie pumpkins this year. The vines have died back almost completely, and the fruits are curing in the waning hours of sunlight. Hopefully they'll have time to ripen to orange before frost.

Our Cherokee Trail of Tears beans are drying on the vines. They are a papery purple now, and I have been slowly picking them so we can shell them before frost. No rush on this project, though. They dry just as well on the plant as off, and they are nice to look at in the meantime.

Our butternut squashes are doing almost as well as the pumpkins, and look ready to pick. The nice part about the fall garden is that there's no hurry to pick veggies that go into storage as long as temperatures are above freezing. I will probably cut these from their vines this weekend, though, to take advantage of the warm sun for a final curing before they go down to the basement.

Our nasturtiums are still going strong, and their fiery orange seems to glow once they are in the afternoon shade. 

The Swiss chard is huge, and shows off some nice autumn color of its own. The chard will last for a couple months after frost if we cover it in a greenhouse tunnel. Although not quite as tough as spinach, kale, and mache, it's still a good, sturdy green for winter.

There are no ears of sweet corn left to harvest, but the drying stalks still look nice enough to leave in place as a natural decoration for the garden. I'm also leaving them to serve as a decoy, so no critters figure out that Tiegan's ears of popcorn are still available to eat in a different area of the garden. Those ears should dry on the stalks, and they aren't quite ready to pick yet — I'm hoping that between this gambit and Fletch's patrolling, she will end up with a decent amount of kernels to pop this year.


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