CO-Horts Blog

Monday, October 11, 2021

 October in my Mountain Garden

By Yvette Henson, San Miguel Basin Extension

 “I love how the air changes…you can feel it, you can smell it, and suddenly it is autumn.”  Melody Lee

That quote is a lovely sentiment that I find to be true, yet I transition slowly every change of season. October is the month I finally give in that fall is here indeed. It is an unbelievably busy and bountiful season of harvest dinners and harvest festivals, and  bringing in wild game and local meat. It is putting up apples and the last of the beans and tomatoes. In my mountain garden it is a race to harvest and put up the shelling peas, late cabbages and root crops.

Apples and pears that need to be made into sauce 

In October, my covered porch is laden with seed crops drying, waiting to be cleaned as well as sweet onions curing on racks.

'Walla Walla' sweet onions curing

perpetual spinach (Beta vulgaris cicla group) seed waiting for cleaning

This October is also time spent worrying that the potato tops aren’t going to die back before the ground freezes. If that happens the skins on the potatoes won’t toughen up enough for storage and the potatoes could be damaged.

Will I have to harvest these potatoes before the tops die?

 I am also biting my nails that my hardy red soba buckwheat crop that I grew to make gluten free flour will not ripen or that I will wait too long to harvest them and lose most of my crop.  Not only would it be disappointing to not have grouts and flour, but I would have to deal with buckwheat coming up in that bed next year.

Red Soba buckwheat (Fagopyrum sp.)
Isn't she a beauty?

Buckwheat's make gluten free grouts, are good cover crops and great pollinator plants!

And if that isn’t enough, it is time to mulch the root crops that are hanging on, to make covers for the crops that need to overwinter and to add to or build a compost pile with the remains of crops and fallen leaves. (I put plants that were infested with insects or disease in a trash bag or burn in our fire circle because my composting method is passive and create enough consistent heat to kill them.)  It’s also time to prepare the bed and plant garlic.  

Extra mulch to 'hold' parsley root in ground for later harvest

Hoops with cover over fall radishes

                Layers of pea plants (nitrogen) and partially composted dry organic matter (carbon) added to compost pile 
I sometimes plant cover crops like annual rye grass that dies with hard frosts creating a blanket to hold the soil in place over winter. I have decided instead of working in compost next spring, I am going to try my hand at no till gardening in my raised beds. I have read that the best time to begin this conversion is in the fall. So, the plan is to add several inches of compost and possibly manure on top of the soil in my beds and let this overwinter. Then I will plant directly into that layer next spring. We will see how that goes. 

 All this is why we garden, right?  I would love to hear about the harvest season in your garden.

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