Late autumn flowers

chrysanthemum bloom in front of brassicas

There’s an article in the local paper about late-autumn flowering plants. There are still some asters and goldenrod blooming here, but most of it has gone to seed.  Henry Homeyer mentions some late-blooming shrubs. I’ve had Witch Hazel growing elsewhere, and can’t wait to get some here for Sunny Woodlands.

What we do have now is our fall crop of Shungiku, an edible chrysanthemum. So bright and cheery, with beautiful foliage. It makes a beautiful, edible bed border about 20 inches tall.

We’ve also finally got some Jersusalem Artichoke flowers, which didn’t even really start to bud until the weather got chilly.

Jerusalem Artichoke
Jerusalem Artichoke

And then there’s the fall foliage. Now’s the time of year when you can most easily see all the places the invasive burning bush has escaped to! Our Japanese maple is the same brilliant red.

Ode to Brassicas in a Northern Clime

Daikon in fall

Brassicas in a Northern Clime

rule like dinos in another time

if you plant early spring, they’ll bolt to seeds

when you let them go, they displace the weeds

Kale  leaves
Kale leaves

root veg, tight heads, stem, or leaf,

all flower with four-lobed motif

sprouting in days

evolved so many ways

the harvest fills trugs

just watch out for slugs

Patch of kale
Patch of kale

The very cold-tolerant Brassica family can give us Northerners a huge harvest all the way up to Thanksgiving–sometimes even Christmas–without protection.

Also known as cruciferous vegetables for the resemblance of their 4-petaled flowers to a cross. Their seedlings also have four lobes: two on each of the cotyledons, which emerge before the true leaves appear.

They are grown for different edible parts, varying from flowers (broccoli and cauliflower), to roots (radishes and turnips), to leaves or heads of leaves (kale, arugala, bok choi, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), to stems (kohrabi), or both florets and stems (broccoli rabe and hon tsai tai).

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October gardening

Compost-bin Butternut squash!

About 5 or 6 nights of light frost have hit so far. Not all in a row; there’s been nice weather, even 70°F days in-between. So what’s still growing in our part of New Hampshire?

We covered up the basil to protect it from the first few nights of frost. We processed a lot of it for freezer storage. There should be enough to make Pho all winter and Spring. Then we brought most of the remaining plants into the greenhouse, which still gets up to 90°F at times!

Giant basil, in the greenhouse
Giant basil, in the greenhouse

We’ve been covering up the tomatoes and tomatillos when frost is expected. Their leaves have been taking hits from the light frosts but are still ripening a bit more. Some tomatoes that have started to turn have been brought in to ripen indoors. The volunteer plants are ripening slightly more quickly than the others. The tomatillos continue to get bigger inside their husks as the weather gets cooler.

Tomatillo (the husk starts off way bigger than the fruit inside)

We had already harvested the squash from the new clearing we made this spring because their leaves got hit by frost and the stems shriveled up during an extended period with no rain. But the Butternut squash in the compost bin held out longer and yielded two very large squash. What a great volunteer!

Compost-bin Butternut squash!
Compost-bin Butternut squash!

The Malabar spinach got hit earlier by the frost than the New Zealand Spinach. Both are not true spinach varieties, but heat-loving substitutes. As of mid-October, the NZ spinach is still thriving under a clear dome we use to protect plants during the early and late ends of the growing season.

New Zealand Spinach
New Zealand Spinach

The beets and regular spinach I planted in early August are thriving. I take a leaf to nibble now and then when I’m in the garden.

Fall beet crop
Fall beet crop

We’re getting a great crop of Shungiku, which is an edible chrysanthemum. I use the leaves in stir-fries. I’m leaving one plant to go to seed. The scattered chamomile and Jerusalem Artichoke (a sunflower with edible tubers) are still going strong, too.

Shungiku, loving the cool weather
The Shungiku is loving the cool weather

What’s in your fall garden?