Monday, September 10, 2007

What's Growin' On 9/10/07:
Planning & Planting The Fall Garden

Golden California Wonder Pepper Ready To Pick

Realization Of The Day:
The best thing about this year's summer gardening season is that it's almost over.

Spring wasn't real great either, but it did give me my best spinach crop ever (I ate spinach salad for weeks from one 4-foot by 8-foot raised bed), as well as that
long and glorious lettuce season. I had so much lettuce I was eating it for breakfast. And of course in spring there's always the prospect of all that glorious summer bounty to come. Which mostly didn't. It's no wonder I haven't written anything here in months. (Welcome to all the new subscribers!)

I did learn a few things, though, including the fact that I really need to focus on growing more fall and winter crops. Now I just need to plant some.

I was shocked the other day when I realized I'd taken
this photo of gorgeous, freshly picked autumn greens last year on October 4th. I've been so busy watering and sweating to death over the past couple of months that I didn't start any seeds for fall. No pak choy, no Swiss chard, no lettuce, no endive or escarole, no spinach, no kale, no turnips, no beets, not even any of my beloved Nero di Toscana cat cabbage

Fortunately it shouldn't be too late to plant an autumn garden here in southern Missouri. The official frost date isn't until October 15th (though ours often arrives earlier since we're tucked down in a little valley), and the weather can be fairly mild into November. All sorts of salad greens, as well as other vegetables such as kohlrabi, cabbage, and brussels sprouts thrive in cooler weather, and many taste better if they've been subjected to a couple of frosts.

Greenhouse Permanent Arugula Bed On November 8th, 2006

Last winter as I harvested arugula leaves from the same big bug-free plants for weeks without them turning bitter or bolting, I realized that this easy to grow green actually
thrives in cold weather.

In areas such as the South and the West Coast, you should be able to plant now and continue eating from your garden straight through winter and right into spring.

We're still seeing temperatures in the mid 80s on
the farm, but yellow leaves have begun speckling some of the trees, and the nights are finally cooling down. We've even had some much needed rain. Best of all, the last chigger bite of the year is thankfully in sight.

My appetite for tending to my garden--and my garden journal--has returned. So if you'll excuse me, I have some serious weeding and seeding to do.

How did your summer grow? Successes? Failures? Lessons learned you can pass on to the rest of us?

Coming Up (and this time I really mean it):
--The Easiest Greek Salad Ever
--How to grow Swiss chard from seed, plus two of my favorite Less Fuss, More Flavor Swiss chard recipes
--What I learned this year about growing garlic
--Review of a new dandy little gardening book

Ideas & Inspiration For Your Autumn Garden:
My Review of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible, my favorite gardening book
Building My Inexpensive Greenhouse
Planting My Fall 2006 Garden Part I
Planting My Fall 2006 Garden Part II
Planting My Fall 2006 Garden Part III
How To Grown Your Own Gourmet Lettuce From Seed: It's easier than you think!
How To Go From Seed To Salad Bowl In Less Than A Month: Growing arugula, lettuce, and more, even if you don't have an actual garden
How To Grow Beets From Seed & Why You Should
How To Grow Turnips From Seed And What To Do With Them
How To Grow Endive & Escarole From Seed And What To Do With Them
How To Grow Nero di Toscana Cat Cabbage From Seed And What To Do With It
How To Make It Rain On Your Garden
Pollinators In The Garden

Enjoying The Late Summer Harvest Now:
My Less Fuss, More Flavor Fresh Pizza Sauce
Savory Tomato Pesto Pie
Tomato Pesto Pizza, My Favorite Basil Pesto Recipe, & The Simplest Tomato Salad
Three No-Cook Summer Recipes:Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw, Easy Vegetarian Tacos & High Kickin' Creamy Tomato Dressing
Baby Cream Cheese & Tomato Sandwiches On Italian Black Olive Cheeks
My Seven Second Tomato Glut Solution
Colors Of Summer Salad
Summer In A Bowl
Making & Using Arugula Pesto
My Super Simple Spinach Soup Recipe
Caramelized Beets With Garlic
Herbed Yogurt Cheese Recipe & How To Make Homemade Yogurt
Fast Farm Food: Lettuce For Breakfast? Why not!
My Basic Summer Squash Soup Recipe
My Simple Summer Harvest Soup
My Simple Summer Harvest Soup--The Autumn Version
The Easiest Broccoli Soup Ever
Apple Blueberry Crumble Bars
Just Peachy Blueberry Breakfast Bars

And Later:
Don't Cut Your Basil Season Short!
How To Freeze Sweet Peppers
How To Freeze Zucchini & My One Claim To Fame
What To Do With All Those Green Tomatoes? Make My Easy Salsa-Style Green Tomato Relish!
Quality for Keeps: A Comprehensive Guide To Freezing Vegetables from the University of Missouri Extension Center
The Ball Home Canning Basics Kit includes everything you need get started canning.
I can't imagine life without a FoodSaver and use mine to seal everything from green beans to wild venison to chainsaw chains (it keeps them from rusting). I've found it's more economical to make my own custom bags using two different sized rolls of the FoodSaver bag material.

© 2007, the award-winning blog where Farmgirl Susan shares stories & photos of her crazy country life on 240 remote Missouri acres.


  1. First, I have to say that I discovered your blog early last summer and it has been so helpful (and your Farmhouse White is *fabulous*!)

    This is our third year with the garden. I learned a lot from both successes and failures:
    - rabbits *love* cucumbers;
    - water new plants and seeds often, but then back off;
    - most red bell peppers will rot before they can be picked;
    - no matter how often or how brutally you prune tomato plants, it's not enough and you will end up with a jungle in the end (I don't really know what the lesson is here);
    - something besides me sure loves Amish Paste tomatoes (and does not love Sweet 100s);
    - all of the sweat, tears, and bug bites will be worth it this winter when I open a jar of salsa that I not only made myself, but raised most of the ingredients from seeds.

  2. Susan,
    > I've been so busy watering and sweating to death over the past couple of months that I didn't start any seeds for fall.

    We continually hope that once we accomplish something, it will last forever, but nothing does -- particularly when we work with biology.{sigh}

  3. I haven't started much for Fall, just a bit of arugula and lettuce now that it's cooled down. I'll probably sow some rapini too, but first I have weeds to pull and all these tomato vines to cut up and bag. It never ends does it?

  4. Glad to see new posts on here, FarmGirl! I always enjoy your gardening insights.

    It's been an awful garden year here in west central Georgia. Six weeks of 100+ temps pretty much ruined everyone's garden. Pests, drought, and just bad luck turned my Summer of Tomato Glory into...well...a dozen measly heirloom tomatoes from five plants. You read it correctly: 12 tomatoes all summer long. My mom's string beans and field peas were also hard-hit, though she had quite a bit of success with jalapeno and cayenne peppers and cabbage.

    Here's to a great fall garden--it HAS to be more successful than the summer ones! :-P

  5. We have had a season of too much rain, here on the west coast of Canada. But we have had a second year of a great bean harvest (bush, runner and pole). Potatoes did well, as did the peas. Zuchini? Well, mine are just fruiting now. I'm buying plants next year, that's it.
    Apparently I need two years to grow cabbages, as the two plants I left in the bed over winter now have four lovely cabbages.
    Now that the sun is shining (in time for the kids to be in hot classrooms) I may yet throw some spinach in. But I certainly lost my garden mojo with all the rain. Sigh.
    However, like lee with the salsa, when I eat those fresh frozen beans in February it will all be worth it.

  6. We're in northern Missouri, do you still think a fall garden of greens will work up here if I hop to it and plant this week? My Romas have been perfect and practically bug free, and the basil is beautiful. I'm going to use your tips to extend the growing season on the basil. My kids can never have enough "green pasta.

    Unfortunately my zukes fell victem to the squash bugs also, and they've moved on to the watermelon plants.

    The biggest pest problem I've had this year is an over-enthusiastic 5 year-old who picked pre-mature watermelons and delivered them to the neighbor. Oh, well, live and learn!

  7. Oh, I need some of the chigger stuff. I have a few bites right now. They stay for weeks.... maybe I can make it myself?

    We have cleared some rows for lettuce and I started some seeds of pak choy and winter squash. I should find some arugula (rocket) because I love that stuff. good idea.

    We are having indian summer here in france, I am canning too, always a hot day when you can. Our tomatoes didnt do that well either with the global climate change of this year.

    What a giantatic blog post comeback, by the way. It will take me weeks to read all the links :)

  8. I love your Blog! It's so great to see what other people are growing.
    This is my first year gardening in the Suburbs of Minneapolis. I'm used to East Coast zone 5 and now I'm in Midwest zone 4. What a difference!
    My husband built 2 raised beds for me to start my garden and despite my over zealous planting which crowded the beds a bit, we had a nice bounty of tomatoes which I have put up as sauce for the winter. I can't wait for a February pot of spaghetti sauce that tastes like fresh garden grown.
    Our first gardening mishap occured when we installed the raised beds and we lovingly added beautiful ammended soil and peat, daintily planted tiny tomato and pepper plants and then watched everything get hammered with the first downpour of the season. The level of the soil dropped by 3 inches as everything was compacted after that rain.
    We call this year our practice year.

  9. I've been working my tail off trying to get settled into our new home. I did manage to start digging the fall garden. I managed to plant spinach, winter greens, broccoli, swiss chard, italian parsley, leeks, green onions, and carrots (I think that's it). I keep trying to carve out some more garden space, but these shorter days are really hindering me.

  10. Susan, lovely to see you posting here again!

    I didn't have any wild successes, just mild. My gardens at the new house still do not get enough sun, so yield is low. We swung between drought and flood, and once the rains set in the mold spores woke up and killed all of my Cucurbitaceae. Bummer. I hope to get several lasagna beds built this fall on the weekends, in much sunnier spots. We also plan to take down a few more trees. Maybe next year!

    I did plant a fall crop of beans (haricot and royal burgundy bush), they're flowering now, but only getting about 3 hrs of sun per day, so I'm not expecting much. The fall beets have been 3 and 4 inches tall for a month now. The arugula is holding steady at 2". The collards and kale might do something more if the flea beetles have really deserted the crop as it appears they have.

    Temps dipped down into the mid 40s last night and really? I'm so ready to put the gardens to bed and deal with having a 4 season harvest next year.

  11. From one farmgirl to another, just discovered your blog and I'm exhausted just from reading all the stuff you do !

    It'll take time to catch up on all of your interesting posts but I will do it little by little.

    Stop by my garden for a visit.

  12. Yay! You're back to talk food from the garden.

    And, plus, you appear to be human after all and not actually sprouting vegetables from your pockets. Phew.

    I learned from a previous season that my garden needs some winter QT with amendments and cover to recoop for the spring planting, so I won't be doing winter veg.

    That was a particularly hard lesson to learn which resulted in a tearful display of barely productive tomato plants and dead everything else.

    This year I also learned that planting a Big Max pumpkin in the same 3x8 bed as a cantaloupe and six strawberry plants was not good for the cantaloupe. He vanished under the pumpkin after only a few weeks and has only recently reemerged with a sad little ping-pong fruit. Lame.

    Also, Better Boy tomatoes are the best. Hands down.

    And August is too late to plant beans. Yeah.


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!