Bundling Up and Planning for Spring...
We've had a few teaser cold fronts this month but finally this week we got a bigger one, one that apparently took us into the high 30s overnight (the night before I'm drafting this). And of course, we brought nothing in the night before, not thinking that we would see something this chilly quite yet. But here we are. I don't think there will be any damage but who knows how much my plumeria will pout---they typically don't like it when it dips towards 40* at all. This cold front was also a bit of a head scratcher because at the same time Hurricane Zeta was hurtling towards New Orleans yesterday while the Texas Panhandle and the High Plains were receiving ice and snow. What an autumn!
If there's one thing that October has shown me is that my sowing of fall edibles in pots early in September was a good idea. A good enough idea that next year I will bump it up to mid-August for some of them. Red Giant mustard and Chinese cabbage are well on their way to having harvestable leaves here in a few weeks, with kale and others shortly behind them. I'm battling falling leaves in the garden as they try to cover up seedlings. It's an easy chore to go through pick them off a couple of times a week as it gives me a good idea of how well things are going out there.
I'll cover this in my October "In the Garden" episode, but this month I decided I'm going to get growing zinnias in the edible garden next year. Typically I have more space in the edible garden in the summer anyway so it will be an opportunity to use that space for them. This was partly prompted by my son's growing of zinnias in his little plot in the garden in late summer this year. And then my friends over at Cassiopeia Farm have been making me drool with envy over the end of season flower harvests. She pointed me in the direction of Floret Flowers and their seeds but they aren't released until January and cost a bit more. I ended up finding quite a lot of different varieties at Swallowtail Garden Seeds and between my son and I we came up with several varieties we will try in the spring and summer next year. If I can be cranky with the deer in the flower garden, I might as well make some space in the edible garden where it is fenced in to appease my flower ideals.
With that, I'm also trying sweet peas again after many years off. In fact, I only grew them one time in the community garden we were at back in 2011-2012. I've always wanted to try again but see: deer for that answer. I've linked the episode down below, but there was a Roots and All podcast a few weeks ago that encouraged me to try them again, with the idea to start seeds in the fall instead of in late winter as I had done previously. So far the seeds I have are germinating and I need to transplant them out into the garden and get some more seeds sown. In addition to a mix I have on hand from Renee's, I am trying a Cupid Pink sweet pea which is a dwarf variety I will try in a hanging basket. *crosses fingers* Here's hoping there are flowers in my future!
In addition to all of that I have a stash of native seeds to get into the fridge for stratifying and others that I need to take out and get into pots for germination. And at some point I need my husband to burn the ROW, or mow it shortly, so I can toss out some wildflower seeds there. Sometimes it seems as if fall and winter provides a period of dormancy but I often feel here in my zone it is still a rather frenzied time. If I let myself languish too long in doing any kind of gardening then there is a lot to catch up on later!
For my final note, may I recommend the The Big Flower Fight over on Netflix? I'm not a huge fan of reality tv but I was looking for something more grown-up to watch with my son but also something suitable for his age, 6. And seeing as he's getting into plants and gardening a bit I thought this would be fun. And I was right! While he was more enamored with the big dinosaur they end up making later on in the season, the entire series was a hit and we binged it over a weekend. If you looking for something to take your mind off of the stress of the world as these evenings get darker (sometimes focusing on books just doesn't cut it!) then check out the show!
Good Garden Reads:
Earlier this fall I read Shawna Coronado's latest book No-Waste Organic Gardening which highlights the myriad of ways gardeners can do their best to put into practice the re-use, reduce, recycle mantra in their own gardens. One of my favorite suggestions and one I've seen a few places is to re-use colorful glass bottles as garden edging or to add some unique décor to the garden. I'm not sure if I will actually make this tip happen in my garden but it certainly kicks up the idea of branching out and trying to be better about making do instead of buying new. Especially in these uncertain times!
Gosh, I loved this book! I came to it via a suggestion in Kim Werker's amazing weekly craft newsletter a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to make ink out of charcoal and as soon I found that my library had it available digitally, I downloaded it to flip through. It took me another sit-down a few weeks later to actually flip through it fully but was a delight it was! I was even more interested after I made a batch of walnut ink with some walnuts I foraged recently and after seeing how simple it can be to make inks from plants but also random foraged materials like pieces of metal or flakes of paint, I want to make more in the future! If you are a creative this is one to check out!
Last month I mentioned the book The Last Garden in England and I had hoped this book would be as hopeful and cheerful as the other book ended. That was not the case but this book still had some interesting focal points from turn-of-the-century Scotland/England and colonial India. Focused on the prodigal son of a prominent family in Scotland who absconds to India in search of rare plants, this book takes us through some familial plights when hunting for rare plants and collector specimens in those days meant fame and fortune. There were some characters I wasn't too fond of but I did appreciate some of the insight into that colonial culture of plant collecting that I think so many of us fail to think of when it comes to where our plants in the nursery trade came from, and the peripheral people involved. A light fiction read if you need any palate cleansing!
Elsewhere in the Natural World...
Finally, as always, if you enjoyed this newsletter and would like your fellow gardeners to know about it, forward it on and encourage them to subscribe! I'd also love to hear what you are reading this autumn---hit reply and let me know!