Jack Frost made his arrival 14 days after the average frost date for our area in the mountains. And he returned the next night too. Though neither frost was a “killing” frost, it did burn the leaves on the pumpkin vines, revealing the 4 dozen fruits hidden in their midst. Most are still green, but Google says they can be set on a sunny patio and will ripen. There are no more frost dates in the forecast for about 10 days (of course that can change in a blink), so they will sit and cure or ripen until it looks like the weather requires they be brought in to the root cellar.
These are Seminole pumpkins. They remain small and turn tan when ripe. Being a moschata variety, they are resistant to vine borers. I feared there wouldn’t be any as the vines took so long to take hold and grow, but in spite of the frost, there are still a few flowers blooming.
The frost wasn’t enough to totally kill off the remaining peppers, but to make sure they weren’t wasted, the last of them were picked, along with a handful of sheltered Calendula flowers.
The Calendula still has many buds and because of it’s sheltered position along a south facing stone wall, I may be able to continue harvesting them to dry for salves for another month or so. The peppers were all cut in half lengthwise and for the next couple of days, the house will be piquant with the scent of capsaicin as the oven is used as a dehydrator to reduce the moisture in them for storage.
My longterm to do list includes an arbor for the grape vine and a solar dehydrator. Short term, I need to clean up the mess that was my garden this summer. A few handfuls of weeds and spent beans were tossed to the chickens to pick through.
The asparagus tops need to be cut back and their bed mulched with hay. The spent sunflowers need to be cut or pulled and the bed nearest the compost turned and fed with shovels of compost in preparation for the garlic and onions in about a month. The beds that had the tomatoes and the overgrown mint bed are full of mint and weeds and need serious clean up and mulching. The bed that was peas last spring, that I planted oats, field peas, and vetch in as cover crop and then the chickens scratched up has a few of the cover crop plants in it, but is mostly weeds, so it too needs to be pulled up and covered with hay. I tried to control the mint with a tarp which failed miserably. Maybe the weed wacker will bring it down and I can cover it with a thick layer of newspaper and cardboard, a thicker layer of hay and let it sit dormant for a year. The mint that has escaped the bed is growing over the top of cardboard in the aisles and is fairly easy to pull up.
Each year in April, the University has a Saturday where you can sign up to have students come help you with projects. I am going to try to catch that date and see if some students can help me rebuild my boxes and reset my fence so that it doesn’t look like a drunk erected it. If I can get the posts set where I want them prior to the student’s arrival, perhaps we can get a tight run of 4 foot welded wire around the garden, the gate hanging hardware put in the wooden post that has the solar charger on it, and the gate moved. Both of my solar chargers need new batteries, perhaps that can get done this winter so it will fully charge and once the fence is repaired, new electric can be strung along the top to discourage the deer. There is a lot to be done, but the weather is cool now and not so onerous to be outside working. A couple hours a day over a few days should get the garden put to bed for the winter.