The Autumn garden

If only there was a winter tomato

The lettuce I planted in late September has gotten full enough to harvest. This crop is a little bit of a surprise since the temperature has dropped a couple of nights below freezing and I found the seed packets in the garage from a couple of years ago. I guess the theory that seeds have to be bought fresh each year is another myth.

For anyone living south enough not to have already had four feet of snow now is usually the latest that garlic and onions can be planted. This is also the time to mulch plants and compost the garden. I usually just mow up leaves and then dump the clippings around the plants as mulch. The leaf matter protects the roots and fertilizes the soil all at the same time. Anyway, it beats dumping them in garbage bags to haul off to the landfill.

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About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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43 Responses to The Autumn garden

  1. Yuri says:

    I am moving next year and plan on growing stuff on the rooftop… there’s a lot of space and if I could I would move to a big house with a big patio. oh well :) will ask you for tips!

  2. Kristy says:

    We were just debating what to do with our leaves… ;)

  3. Zo Zhou says:

    There may not be winter tomatoes but there is winter “spinach strawberry”! Haven’t tried them but love the idea of being able to get my spinach and berries all from the same plant hehe.

  4. This is such a lovely post, I enjoyed reading it because I’m a failure at gardening, so I’m always inspired by other people’s stories and advice :)

  5. We live in such a new neighborhood, the slightest breeze and our few leaves scatter. I am envious of your lettuce patch. We’re so far north there is only the north wind and frozen ground for us until next spring:P

  6. Tandy says:

    I am hoping that it is true that you can plant old seeds as I just found some beet seeds hidden away :)

  7. YAY Greg! Your garden is definitely coming along. I wish I could grow lettuce.. I eat it everyday and there is nothing like fresh lettuce for lunch.

  8. Congrats on a good lettuce showing!

  9. Eva Taylor says:

    One of your first posts I read, Greg, was of your beautiful tomatoes. Spring is just around the corner! Before you know it, you’ll have more tomatoes than you know what to do with! Happy Fall!

  10. Carolyn Chan says:

    I heard there has been an early snow in the US. Composting would be so satisfying.

  11. Charles says:

    Fresh seeds each year? I’m sure that’s a scam from the evil seed producing conglomerates bent on vast profits at the expense of hobby gardeners!

  12. Lettuces are pretty tough – as long as you let the temps get above freezing before you pick it, you got no problems…it can freeze at night, warm up in the morning, and be salad-bowl ready by dinner.

    As for long-term seed viability, it varies from plant to plant…most veggie seeds are good for more than a year, but you’ll have more ‘duds’ that don’t sprout in older packages. Onions and beets are the most delicate, and should be fresh every year to get a good crop. I think you could plant thousand-year-old squash seeds, and still get 3 out of 10 to germinate…

    Happy Fall Gardening!

  13. We had arugula that came up this fall – we didn’t plant extra, I suppose it was seed from our earlier crop? It was a bit tough, but edible!

  14. I have Kale that continues to return in a flower bed that used to be a vegetable garden…and then of course, Oregano, which seems to be the hardiest plant on earth! We also have lots and lots and lots of leaves. My husband just purchased a leaf blower and loves it!

  15. Lea Ann says:

    I’m afraid the only way I could grow anything is if I had a greenhouse. I wonder if you could grow tomatoes in a greenhouse in the winter?

  16. I’m jealous of your garden. We are already getting frost!

  17. Rachel says:

    Its a race this year to see if my late tomatoes will red-up before it gets what passes as “cold” here… Your greens are beauuuuuuutiful! Mmmm…

  18. Joanne says:

    I’m so excited to grow a garden, once Pete and I move. I’ll definitely need to consult your blog when that day comes!

  19. Sissi says:

    Lettuce in November without a greenhouse sounds incredible, but I totally understand why you miss tomatoes.

  20. niasunset says:

    This is a beautiful post. I love your sharings with us, you almost carry me into a dream lands…. Because I don’t have a garden like that… How sounds beautiful too. Blessing and Happiness, Thank you dear Rufus, (By the way I read in somewhere, you catch cold! Get well soon) with my love, nia

  21. spicegirlfla says:

    Wow…look at that beautiful fresh lettuce! November is my new planting season – tho I only plant herbs and flowers!! I’d love to have a garden but I just don’t have that green touch!

  22. if only i had my lettuce and herbs still growing. the drought we had this year in texas just killed everything and definitely prevented me from wanting to grow anything this fall. we still haven’t had alot of rain

  23. I hardly ever buy new seeds every year – so far so good on having all my seeds work!
    Great photo of your lettuce. :-) Mandy

  24. ChgoJohn says:

    Out with the old; in with the new. You really do take advantage of your long growing season and warm climate. Now it’s winter lettuce and your “crop” looks great!

  25. Mama Lisa says:

    I would love a winter tomato, too! Beautiful lettuce. Jeff and I just harvested the last of our hot peppers yesterday afternoon, and our late-fall crop of radishes is just about an inch and a half high. We hope to get them before snow does.

  26. PhobicFoodie says:

    Those beautiful baby lettuce leaves look so delicious and delicate! They would have been utterly demolished by these last couple of snows here in Colorado…We got all of about 17 minutes of fall here and then it was winter!

  27. Stephanie N says:

    Margaret Roach over at A Way to Garden has a handy table of how long various veggie seeds last:
    http://awaytogarden.com/estimating-viability-how-long-do-seeds-last

    I’ve been enjoying some late-sown lettuce and radishes, and I’m lucky enough that my tomatoes and peppers are still going, if very slowly now.

  28. zestybeandog says:

    One day I WILL have a garden of my own, until then…I’ll just be envious of yours :)

  29. ceciliag says:

    Our late cilantro and lettuce is fantastic too, this has been a great fall garden year. John even has radishes and broccoli almost ready, fingers crossed, we are already pushing it, but nothing ventured nothing gained! c

  30. Kas says:

    I would love to grow more crops, and tried to earlier this summer, but someone dug up my carrots since they are her favorite treat … By the way, when do people plant potatoes?

  31. nrhatch says:

    Lettuce looks great. Nice to make use of the garden late into the fall. :D

  32. I totally made a salad tonight with my lettuce bed I planted in September! Yay for warm weather. I actually very brazenly planted some cherry tomato plants at the same time. I saw some blossoms today. *Stay warm for another month, Florida.*

  33. We do the same thing with the leaves. Put them on the garden and around plants in the yard. I hate putting them in bags.

  34. late season and winter salads are a real favourite of mine, I always hanker after fresh greens and salads, so I need to grow my own fix!

  35. I just bought a house, next year I WILL have a garden !!!

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