Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gardening in October

Usually by October, my gardening for the season is complete.  This year we are still in Washington and enjoying the best late summer/early fall ever.  The days have been sunny and warm.  The cooler nights and sun rising and setting lower in the horizon the only signs that the calendar had flipped from summer to fall.
I always plant a cover crop of winter rye in the fall and till it into the soil for fertilizer in the spring.  This is ever more important as the farms that used to dot the landscape of Snohomish County have mostly given way to residential housing developments, so my source for good nitrogen-rich chicken manure has dried up.  Today I tilled in the last of the corn plants, cucumber vines, pumpkin vines, potato plants, dill, and assorted broccoli plants in and spread winter rye.  A final quick till stirred the rye into the soil.
I left the two raised beds as they are still producing beans, corn, squash, and carrots.  Our first frost will come soon, but until it does, we have fresh produce. 
Today I will cut the dahlias to the ground and leave the debris as mulch for them.  I used to dig them, but have just mulched them every fall for years and they have been thriving.
I discovered the strawberries were full of weeds (again) so I took a break from tilling and weeded them before I planted the rye.  When I went back to plant, I saw tracks in the freshly tilled dirt. 
If you look in the upper right corner, you will see the two big rodents that sail right over the fortress fence around the garden to eat the strawberry plants, grape vines, and apple trees.
Fortunately lots of the apples are above their reach now, and the grapes are so prolific that nothing could eat that many grapes.