Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Putting the Kitchen Garden to Bed

The Kitchen Garden July 2014

It's time to put the kitchen garden to bed, but like an energetic child, it doesn't want to go. This is because I planted cool-season crops when the growing season was winding down and they are flourishing. The little bunny who lives under my potting shed prompted my decision to try to extend the season. To explain, I need to take you back to the beginning of the gardening year:

As always, I began by putting a rough plan on paper. I don't plant a crop in the same place two years running and I place plant 'families' together using a four-year rotation method. Here is my 2014 plan:

You can compare this plan with 2013 and 2012 by clicking on the year. The past postings describe my vegetable garden in detail and explain the rotation method I use.  My garden is a combination of direct sowing and starting plants indoors from seed. I write about how I choose seeds here. I wont repeat all this information now, as it is easy for you to find it using these links.

Let's take a pictorial look at how my 2014 garden progressed ...

End of May : I finish sowing and planting.  

 I use the square-foot gardening method.

Middle of June : Snow peas, bush beans, and cukes sprout.

Middle of June : Blossoms on zucchini

June - August : I harvest snow peas.

July : Beautiful blossoms on the bush beans.

August : Acrobatic bee on borage.

August and September : I harvest cucumbers and zucchini.

August through October : Pick cabbages.

By the beginning of August the cantaloup plants have escaped.

Cantaloups are late to mature. Begin harvesting them in early September.

Peppers are even later. Pick most of them at the beginning of October.
Still have plenty of onions.

I picked all the carrots this week, but left the parsnips to enjoy a little frost. Frost definitely improves their flavor.

Note the empty bamboo tepee -- the runner beans were a complete failure this year, mainly because of Japanese beetles and that pesky rabbit. The little pest ate all the sunflowers, beets, Swiss chard, and spinach as soon as the plants popped up out of the soil. I was in England at that time and the plants were totally unprotected.

Can you see the bunny returning to his home under the shed after eating a row of sunflower seedlings?

Cute, but oh, so distructive!

I was most upset at the loss of my beets, which have taken a first place ribbon at the Fair the last couple of years. Also, I missed making jars of pickled beets -- a family favorite. Beets are a cool-weather crop, and as the bunny had relocated to the Woodland Walk by the end of summer, I decided to try again. So instead of putting the whole garden to bed I planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, and beets.

I scratched some well rotted compost into the soil in preparation. I timed the planting so that the young greens would become well established before the weather cools off too much. As you can see, I was successful. With frost forecast, on Sunday I covered the salad/beets bed with fleece and I harvested the rest of the crops. 

 No more frost forecast for a few days, so I rolled the fleece back.

The last few days, I picked salad greens, radishes, peppers, carrots, cabbage, parsnips, and onions. The beets are not quite mature enough yet.

My haul before the frost.

I guess I have the rabbit to thank for prompting me to plant a late harvest. I will definitely plan to grow cool-weather crops again next year, although I will also protect my spring crops! Do you extend your growing season?

It is near the end of the gardening year in the northern hemisphere. My feelings are mixed at this time, because I'm sad that it is ending, and yet look forward to RESTING (after I've canned the beets, of course.)  I don't think I would be  able to garden year-round.

Whatever the season where you live, enjoy your garden!

Pamela x

Chocolate mint.

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pam, I love your kitchen garden. Starting with a plan is so important. Thank you for sharing your gardens with all of us. That bad rabbit! Do you ever want to call him Peter just for old times sake?~~Dee

  2. Your garden is beautiful! I'm impressed with your organization. That's how I have always imagined a Square Foot garden should look. In my climate it is possible to garden year round, but in the last few years we have been taking advantage of the local farmers' markets and roadside stands. Sweet winter dreams to your garden!

  3. That is a very impressive garden. You are an inspiration to me!

  4. I enjoyed reading about your kitchen garden and the rotation of crops, you are doing so well and such a pity you could not show beets on the Fair this year. That lovely little bunny looks so cute, but is a nuisance, I know for I have even two in the garden this year, they are so destructive.
    Also here year round gardening is not possible, too cold and/or too wet in winter. The gardening season ends by end of October and starts normally end of March.

  5. Wow, that is one good looking veggie garden! The first year of my veggie garden here wasn't as productive as I would like it to be. Next year we are going to raise up the beds and add more good dirt. I just harvested a good lot of carrots today, though! I worked at a local farm one morning a week for several months this year and got paid in veggies, so I still do have beets from that to can!

  6. Your garden is so productive, even more so this year with your cool season planting. I'm lucky that I don't have rabbits to contend with, well, only the two pet rabbits we keep, but they're kept well away from my veggies. They do still enjoy sharing in the bounty though.

  7. That's a fabulous crop you have there Pam and how I envy you of your many beds....sigh.
    Spring will be here before we know it xx

  8. Hi Pam, I love your vegetable garden! I have not had as much success over the last few years, because our neighbors' locust tree has extended its roots throughout. I keep trying, though. Lettuce and greens usually turn out OK, though, but the fall crop is not coming up. The pole beans are producing well, though.

    Thanks for your nice comment on my post about our curb beds. Yes, perennial geraniums are pretty tough to be able to survive right next to the curb.

  9. Your kitchen garden looks so fascinating! All grow so lush, so healthy. The design is really inspiring.

  10. Hi Pam!
    I'm impressed that you extend your season. I'm usually ready to be done in the fall. That, and I've usually got a couple hundred bulbs to get planted before the ground freezes. :)

    1. Linnae, I have a couple of hundred bulbs to plant, too. What was I thinking? P. x

  11. Pam, your kitchen garden is very impressive! Planning, rotation, designing - I should be better in doing this.
    Your harvest is very good for October!

  12. What a well-organized and tidy garden -- I'm very impressed! But I'm also sorry that you were disappointed by your beans and early cool-season vegetables. Grrr...bunnies! (Our small outdoor dog does a good job of policing rabbits, deer, etc. around here. Do you have a dog?) Thanks for showing this photo record of your impressive vegetable growing efforts! -Beth

  13. Your garden looks great, such productive and healthy looking beds! When did you plant the fall crops? I'm never in the mood to plant in late summer and always regret it when autumn comes.

    1. I believe I planted the seeds in early September, Frank. Now I'm kicking myself for not writing down the date. Embarrassing -- since I'm always preaching the importance of keeping a garden journal. x

  14. What a beautiful and productive kitchen garden you have. I'm so glad to have found your blog Pam.

    1. I'm glad you found me, Mary, because it led me to your lovely blog! x

  15. I wish I had a kitchen garden as large and lush as the one you have. I know it is a lot of work, especially at the end of the season when it and you need a much needed rest. Beautiful garden and photos Pam.

  16. I am always amazed at your kitchen garden. So much to harvest. I wish I had more beds to get more of a harvest. My late harvest veggies needed to be planted in July as our season is shorter than yours Pam. And I did get a small harvest but no beets just tops. Oh well next year. I also rotate my crops every year and have to plan now for next year as I have to know where the garlic is going. It is planted and the rest of the beds topped with compost and mulched. Freeze coming this weekend.

  17. I think I planted my last crops too late and my beets are mainly tops. I'm not sure how much they will develop after the freeze this weekend. Always learning! P. x

  18. It all looks very productive. It must be hard having to stop and clear the beds for winter. I love your organised plan, mine is usually in my head I must try to jot something down, it would help.