Fall gardening See my garden and borders in various seasons.

October Garden “Walk-Around”

Welcome to my October garden and a virtual “walk-around”.

From experiences in the past I know that people can look at my garden, even when it’s in full production mode, and not even know that I’m growing food. Nonetheless, most of what I eat comes from my garden.

As you can see in the photos, it’s not based on how most folks plant gardens.

But there’s a purpose for the positioning of every plant, be it considerations for rotating crops, space available, or the fact that some plants grow better in some sections than in others.

The 4 crops that have the most influence on where everything else will go are winter crops being planted now (lettuce, cabbage, kale) and onions, potatoes, and tomatoes planted next year. Placement for those will be determined this month and next.

Entrance Gate to My October Garden

The picture below was taken at my entrance gate on October 13th. Hopefully you can click and enlarge it, enabling a better view.

In the right lower corner of the photo the entrance path begins.

The middle path running from the lower end of the garden to the upper end doesn’t show well in the picture.  But it runs to the right and left where the light green lettuce and cabbage in the photo ends.

I’ll also show you close ups of some of the fall/winter crops as we go along.

Standing at the entrance to my garden October 13th looking left.

One of Bill’s Favorite Flowers Greet Me


Dahlias were a favorite flower of Bill’s. Thus, I like to have them in the garden. If Bill were here at least one of each color would be on our kitchen table.

arugula, cabbage, beans, tomato, summer poinsettia, blueberry bushes, and mache

The end of the entrance path (lower right hand corner) meets the middle-of-the-garden path in another foot.  The small seedlings coming up on the edge of the path are mache. Tomato plant shows in upper right hand corner. Volunteer Summer poinsettia coming up in the second bed where my cover crop residue (buckwheat) acts as mulch.  My second planting of lettuce for fall/winter will go in this bed. Blueberry bushes which are in the row next to the beans show a little in the upper left corner. More detail follows with the next 3 pictures.

Early Jersey Cabbage

Early Jersey Cabbage is a favorite.

Ten other seedlings planted in another bed didn’t make it.  I’m guessing I was over anxious to plant and they were not big enough to withstand some insect damage. Other seedlings are started even though it’s later than desired.



By the time I got out to my garden the year I broke my leg, my great arugula plant had disappeared.  Great – because it came back every year and then reseeded to give me more plants.

That was a big disappointment, especially since I had no idea what variety it was or where I got it.  And I’ve never read in any catalogue of an arugula variety that comes back every year.

To make it even more difficult, varieties shown by various sources look alike.

Thus, I ordered several varieties this year. Knowing spring plantings will bolt the minute it gets warm I planted anyway. And in numerous places. One variety (of course I don’t know which one!) seeded wonderfully and many seeds germinated.

I transplanted these 3 at the end of this bed which will probably be covered when temperatures go below 28ºF.

They do NOT look like “my” variety.  However, if they reseed again and give me lots of new plants next year it will keep me going until I hopefully find the variety that was so grand.

Snap beans (a/k/a string beans)

Snap beans

As you can see, I plant beans in small patches. I love steamed fresh beans, especially with a baked potato.

I hate canned beans. Also dislike frozen beans unless added to soup.  Freezing a quart or two gives me more time to make the soup if I don’t get to it when the beans are fresh.

When these beans were up about 2 inches slug damage was evident on every leaf. They outgrew the damage.

If you look closely you’ll still see a few leaves with holes in them.

By following my advice in the post, Slugs – You Can Control Them, you’ll get rid of the really big ones.  After that you’ll just be dealing with tiny ones that have just recently “hatched”.

The slug damage on the bean seedlings didn’t last long enough for me to use Sluggo to stop them from eating. There are years that I don’t use any Sluggo, because damage is minimal. When I do have to use it, it’s usually just where I’m having trouble.  And then once does the job.

Moving Across the Middle Path to Beets

Detroit Red Beets

October beets might look shabby but don’t be fooled.  They’ve been in ground since April.  Greens, which were then beautiful, provided a nice addition for salads.

In the heat of summer the greens died back.

Now that fall is here the greens are being renewed.

Over 42 years I’ve grown many varieties of beets.  I’ve found Detroit Red to be one of the best you can grow.

They can get large and even appear to have moss on them and still be wonderful after they’re cleaned up and steamed or roasted.

Heading to the Upper End of the Garden

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese Cabbage – A Great Plant to Have

Chinese Cabbage was new for me this year.  I decided to grow it along with several other varieties in case I was not able to get organic cabbage at the store this year.

This spring I had at least 18 plants.  They all did great, but I didn’t get but one head!  Can you guess why?

These plants grew so quickly and when I had nothing else to go with my grated carrots (until my other plants got larger) I used the leaves of this cabbage.  I picked them so much that only one made a head.  (What a  beautiful and delicious head it was!  It being delicious was NOT anticipated.)

Buy Once – Have Chinese Cabbage Seed Forever

At least that seems to be the case, because when I finally stopped picking the leaves (as other things became available to eat) the plants grew large, produced stalks, flowered, and set seed.

When I planted the seed this fall it germinated in record time.  And as you can see the plants look great! There are at least a dozen. If they continue to grow at the speed they’re growing now, they’ll be the first cabbages to head.  That means I’ll have about a months worth of cabbage as I wait on other varieties.

A Little More Than 3/4 of the Way Up the Garden Looking Towards the Lower End

Oct 20 – the garden’s middle path is easily recognizable in this picture.  If you let your eye go down the path almost to the end — the bright green on the right is the Chinese Cabbage I told you about earlier.

The five rows (to the left of the middle path) were filled with onions this past winter into summer.  After onions were harvested buckwheat was grown, pulled and laid on top.

Oats – Cover Crop

Rows 3,4, and 5 show light green.  That’s a cover crop of oats coming up that will remain in the ground, although it’ll winter kill.  Most likely I’ll put tomatoes in those rows with the “killed” oats next April or May.


One of  5 clumps in the garden.  This is on the left hand side of the 4th row in the previous picture.

Parsley is included with my chopped vegetables almost everyday.  (Sometimes I forget to pick it.)



Carrots are in the first bed in the picture above.

If you grow carrots you know you have to keep them moist to get germination.  After that, you still have to keep them from drying out until they get a good grip on the soil.

I never wanted to pay that much attention to them.  But I’m having to change all that. With food shortages on the horizon, I don’t want to take a chance on not being able to get organic carrots.

(When I broke my leg and couldn’t move, I survived almost totally on cabbage and carrots for four months. Not the most diverse diet, but you can do a lot when you have to.)

Only about 45 carrots in this bed.  No where near enough!! But it’s a start.

Carmen Pepper

Pictured below is the tall dark green plant on the left side of the 5th row in the photo taken October 20.

I don’t like to grow hybrids because I want to save seed AND I want the additional nutrition provided in open pollinated varieties. But I make an exception when it comes to Carmen peppers. They’re my favorite pepper.

As I mentioned in my last post peppers march to their own drummer. And the drum beat can be different each year. But whether they’re late or early, overall they come into their own in the fall.

This plant has given me two red peppers thus far.  The many remaining are still green, but I’m hopeful.  And  if  they  perform  as usual, I’ll have lots of red peppers.

See this post for pictures of a Carmen plant with lots of peppers turning red.

Carmen pepper

California Wonder

This California Wonder Pepper was HUGE! It had not one pepper on it– not even a blossom until September.  By the 15th of September it was heavy with peppers.  I counted 31 peppers from the front and I couldn’t get behind it without breaking some limbs.

It has amazed me!

California Wonder

Winter Density Lettuce and a Potato

Below is my first of three fall plantings. (I need 3 staggered plantings in order to get lettuce now through early summer of next year before next years planting matures.)

Soon I’ll place the concrete reinforcing wire hoop tunnels over the beds. Then when temperatures are forecast to go below 28ºF I’ll cover the hoops with row cover fabric as I’ve shown in other posts.

Row 2 – Winter Density Lettuce and a potato.

Lush growth tops the beds that grow my potatoes.  Most varieties are about finished when hot weather arrives and top growth disappears.  But in my fall garden, spring seems to come again and potatoes start growing again adding to my abundant harvest.

Potatoes growing in the upper part of the October garden.

Buckwheat and Snap Beans – Upper End

Buckwheat in 3/4 of the row. I hope to save seed from it. The beans are my second fall planting and just blooming now.

October Garden Harvest for a Day’s Meal

Winter Density Lettuce, Snap Beans, Tomatoes, Red California Wonder pepper, Cucumber

October Garden Cucumbers

This is my first year for cucumbers in the fall!

Below is the Marketmore cucumber planted this fall.  Even though the plant is no where near as lush and full as summer plants, I’m delighted with it.

As you can see, some of the leaves have downy mildew on them. I pull those leaves off when I go by.

As of today I’ve had 5 cucumbers. We had rain the other night and 4 that were small are almost ready to pick!

Summer plants produce dozens of cucumber and they’re a bit more flavorful than these in the fall. But usually there aren’t any this time of year. So I’m delighted.

Marketmore cucumber at the upper end of garden.


This tomato plant is in a border that I’m closing in part.  It’s still loaded with tomatoes. The Carbon variety that I have in garden is still producing but barely. They’re great tomatoes but don’t produce as heavily as my others – like the one shown here.

Close-up of tomatoes still on the vine.

And by the way:

And by the way, long time readers know I always reply to comments.  They’re so important to me and I consider them the best part of putting up a post.

The last two posts I missed replying to comments for numerous reasons.  But I will reply soon. Those comments added so much to my post.  Your thoughts help give me so many ideas.

And it’s important to me to know that you’re benefiting from my efforts — or at the very least enjoying the read.

Final Thoughts

Hope you enjoyed the virtual walk-around. You’re always in my thoughts when I’m in my garden.

Wishing you a great fall garden!


Pink mums starting to open and Powis Castle Artemesia

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  • I enjoyed the tour and always learn from your posts. Thanks for ‘tending’ to your readers!

  • Dear Theresa,
    I garden in New Brunswick, zone 3b. I began about 16 years ago, and two years ago I got tired of growing weeds and made permanent beds. The dock was getting entirely out of hand, and by now–with a lot of digging–i have a few small patches left. Your blog has been a great source of courage and knowledge.

    Last fall, my husband brought me all the 10-year-old manure I could wish for, and I added 6-10 inches to the beds I planned to have tomatoes in this past summer. It was a naturally good year for all growing things, but oh, those tomatoes. I had beefsteak and brandywine vines with 10-16 tomatoes that measured 4-6 inches, plus a few smaller ones. Our season is short and I haven’t got a greenhouse, so usually if I get 10 decent tomatoes off a vine, I’m doing well. I stake and prune hard, and use black plastic row cover to get the soil warm enough.

    I spent yesterday afternoon weeding, and began to plant the garlic. It is so lovely to work out there.

    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

  • Thanks Theresa, I really enjoyed seeing your fall garden. I planted a late crop of what were supposed to be Contender beans. They evidently aren’t as they want to vine. However, the beans are really nice and flavorful.
    Are your potatoes left in the ground from the spring to grow additionally later? Or do you replant for the fall?
    My peppers are really going great guns now that it is cooler. I found last year that they liked the shade they were planted in from the lima beans also. I have sweet banana and ancho and they are suppling a large group of others as well as me.
    Glad you are well and still ‘at it’.

  • Theresa, thank you for the tour of your garden and your continued efforts to help me and others in our gardening. Hope the leg is doing better and you are back to doing what you enjoy.

  • What a beautiful garden! We are always encouraged to see how diverse your garden is and the combination of vegetables grown intermingled.

    Theresa, you bring delight to our lives with your posts!

  • I thoroughly enjoyed this tour! This is my first year with a garden done as close to your advice as i could make it. The summer went well and we enjoyed the vegetables. I’ve been working in the garden to get it ready for winter and have been less successful with my fall crops. In order to seek encouragement and guidance, i reread your book and feel much more comfortable. I greatly appreciate your support and advice! With many thanks, Becky Owsley

  • Theresa,
    How beautiful your garden and produce! Thank you so much for sharing the beauty along with your encouragement and wisdom. I am excited to try Chinese cabbage now!

  • Hi Theresa!

    Love that your garden is so wild/natural looking. And abundantly producing for you into the fall and winter. I’ll get there one day, hopefully real soon. Not sure if I’m growing mache or weeds yet, but will find out soon enough. Not having any luck with lettuce and spinach so far. Think crickets might have eaten it all before it even had a chance. My California Wonders also went nuts once fall weather kicked in. Not quite as prolific as yours, but amazing just the same. Have had to freeze some to keep up.

    You’ve got me curious about summer poinsettia. Looks like a good chop n drop. I recently planted 20 comfrey in out of the way areas around the garden to have additional mulch/organic matter next year. Always looking for prolific stuff I can easily grow and harvest myself. Don’t worry, the comfrey is not an invasive variety, my wife’s had a patch in the yard for years now and it stays put. I raided it for transplants a month or so ago and 18 of the 20 are well established already.

    Food shortages…. rising prices…… yeah. My biggest challenge is going to be not letting those worries overpower the immense joy I’ve discovered in restarting my garden this year.

    Wish me luck and God bless.

  • Theresa, your newsey letters are always so fun but this one was especially so. I love seeing your no-till, lush wonderful garden. Bill’s flowers are a special treat. Thank you for sharing that with us!

  • I’m always inspired by how you garden and attempt to follow your example but am not nearly as successful! I had so many slug and stink bugs and harlequin but and bean beetles. I hand picked thousands it seems!I still got the produce I needed so I’m not giving up for sure. What do you think about making chicken paths through the garden to eat bugs? It adds more work but we’d like to try it if it will help.

  • Hi Theresa!
    I loved this post, your fall garden is truly gorgeous! I really felt like I was walking with you around it.
    Thanks to your comments and to your beautiful pictures, I learn so much in every post. And every time I read a post, I find myself digging more on the website to find more information on related topics (potatoes this time) and I am always reminded that there is so much I haven’t read yet! Your website is a true well of knowledge. Thank you so much for everything!

  • Always enjoy your posts. Wish I could grow more thru the horrible winters of Northern Illinois. I have spinach, swiss chard and some cilantro in a raised bed that I cover. Some years I can keep it going until January, after that it gets too cold.
    Looking forward to your next post.

  • I have arugula that both reseeds and also overwinters and regrows. The two types I planted way back when were Ice Bred and wild type Rucola, so might be one of those. Haven’t had to replant in years and it comes up in odd spots all over the garden.

    I love that Chinese cabbage, too. Rain ruined much of the various cabbages this year. It got trapped in the leaves and rotted the cabbage. Twisted it off and fed the chickens. Now the heads are regrowing on the stalks.

    Also love the Carmen pepper. Looks and tastes wonderful.

    Gave up growing potatoes because they would take up a lot of space and not die back in time to plant a second crop. Do miss that fresh taste that shouts potato.

    Your garden looks wonderful. The flowers scattered around add to its beauty. It’s nice that you have winter greens. I never have the energy for those. I also dislike being out in the cold, so winter is break time for me.

  • I put in some spinach and lettuce and another planting of potatoes. I have never grown a fall garden here in California, and got a late start, but at least it is an attempt. Potatoes grow very well here, though last year I had trouble with them I had them too wet. Here they like full sun, which we have an abundance, and dryer soil. My Swiss Chard grows well into the winter and does not need replanted for at least 3 years. Late Winter or early Spring I start planting outdoors, sometimes end of February, and when they come up cover the plants at night with 4 mil plastic. You have encouraged me to plant second crops and a fall garden. It is a learning experience. Water is the biggest problem here and now it has been dryer than usual. Thank you for all the time you spend sharing your garden.

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