Autumn in the garden has its own appeal. It doesn’t have the almost crazed feeling of anticipation that springtime does, even though it is a most bountiful time to dig and plant and harvest. The autumn garden is slower to plant and slower to grow, but it has its own beauty and appeal. The weather is better, and there are fewer pests to deal with. Today was our first cool day, and I relished the light breeze and slight chill. I was prepared for the change in weather…I went to the nursery at lunchtime on Friday and crammed the Mini Cooper to its roof with soil amendments and hay–250 pounds of compost and 2 large bales of hay. And a couple of Coleus. It’s amazing what fits in my little car. I have been away from my garden for a couple of weeks now, and my morning stroll with a hot cup of hazlenut coffee and a camera in hand renewed my spirit. The garden has been productive while I’ve been away!
The Alma fig tree is gifting us with a second crop this year. It is a smaller crop than her main one, but one night, we will relish a handful or two of fresh figs along with an apple and sweet potatoes, nestled in around a pork roast in the oven and glazed with port wine sauce.
I was so happy to see that our Brugmansia, or Angel’s Trumpet, had burst into glorious bloom in my absence. It survived the summer months of neglect in style, while I was too busy tending the vegetables to pay much attention.
I love surprises in the garden, and this one really tickled me. We had moved our chicken coop over one of our no-dig beds so that the chickens could clean it out and fertilize it for us. They left behind millet seeds from their feed, which quite happily sprouted and sent up their bountiful seedheads. I think the seedheads will be beautiful, once dried, in a fall arrangement along with bittersweet and local cotton branches for the holidays. After Thanksgiving, the chickens will happily eat the millet. Again!
The wild fairy lillies sent up their single shoots with their delicate, spidery blooms. You never know where the fairy lillies will appear, and this year the delicate lillies decided to make their display on the lawn in our little citrus grove.
We have a little fall color, Southern style. Our jalapeno peppers are a favorite among the whole family. They grow like weeds right up until first frost, and if you shy away from their whole heat, just scoop out the seeds and veins with a teaspoon. We put them in omelets, sandwiches, soups and casseroles. I also use them to make my much-loved Mango-Jalapeno Jam and Cowboy Candy. Gotta love jalapenos!
I amended many of our raised beds with organic compost and planted them with the start of our fall and winter crops. We seeded lettuces, collards, arugula, spinach and rainbow Swiss chard. We will have some fresh greens ready for Thanksgiving dinner. But I have so much more to plant! If you are starting raised beds, think about their size. These 4 X 8 beds are perfect, making it easy to reach into the center of the beds from all sides to tend plants and add amendments. Occasionally, I’m practical!
I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather and planting some wonderful things in your garden this weekend.