Sunday Morning Garden Chat: All Fall Down

From faithful commentor Marvel:

It’s Fall clean-up time in the Pacific Northwest: pulled out the spent corn stalks and old pole beans on Thursday; Friday I packed the newly-cured potatoes for cold storage and rebuilt the soil in one of the raised beds (getting ready to plant next year’s garlic). Today we pulled up the sunflowers and hung a few beautiful bouquets on the fence for the birds to forage; and the Winter squash was positively begging to be moved to a cool dark spot in the house.


How goes the autumn wrap-up (or, for our antepodean readers, the spring start-up) in your gardens?

46 replies
  1. 1
    Randy P says:

    We’re not big gardeners but a few things worked pretty well. My wife got a great crop of sunflowers from last year’s seeds. We saw something I’ve never seen before though: two stalks had multiple blooms. The seeds from those are also pure black instead of the usual black-and-white I’m used to seeing.

    I figure it’s some kind of weird mutation (except why would it occur in two stalks and not just one?) and we separated those seeds out to see if it continues in the next generation.

    I’m better at composting than at growing things. We had a “volunteer” squash plant growing up from the compost in the garden, obviously from seeds that had been composted. We were very excited about it until it started actually producing: it was those little poisonous gourds you get for decoration around this time of year. Now we have a dozen or so of those (healthiest squash plant we ever had) that we don’t know what to do with.

  2. 2
    Older_Wiser says:

    @Randy P: Use them for a centerpiece or other decoration, silly. Pair with some yellow and orange chrysanthemums in a basket planter and you’re good to go. Or give them to someone who will. : )

  3. 3
    raven says:

    The sciatica has the princess limiting her gardening greatly right now. The leave are just starting to turn here but the kudzu is on the run.

  4. 4
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    spring has just sprung and I’ve just moved house. my new place has no garden to speak of but plenty of morning sunshine in what outdoor space there is. i think i am going to put out a few pots of thyme and lavender, mint and basil. other thoughts?

  5. 5
    HRA says:

    I cut the rest of the herbs for drying yesterday. I had bought pineapple sage and apple mint early in the season. The stems started turning woody. I am wondering and hoping they come back next year. My sage plant did come back. I picked the rest of the peppers and eggplant. We are slated to get very cold very soon.


    Sciatica can limit you unmercifully. One piece of advice from a friend was to keep the legs warm by wearing knee socks. My advice is to not soak in the tub or take a bath.
    My best to your wife.

  6. 6
    Linda Featheringill says:


    Morning sun:

    Leafy things like spinach and lettuce can make do with only half a day’s sun. And they both like to live in containers. An maybe some of the green onions or chives?

    Enjoy your new space.

  7. 7
    JPL says:

    @HRA: Pineapple sage is a wonderful herb to use on pork. Because mine went wild, I ended up pulling it. Even with vigorous cutting, it was taking over my herb garden. Next spring I’ll plant it in another location. Sages will come back here but I live north of Atlanta.

  8. 8
    jeffreyw says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Perhaps some dill? Or maybe a few peppers?

  9. 9
    HRA says:


    “Pineapple sage is a wonderful herb to use on pork. Because mine went wild, I ended up pulling it. Even with vigorous cutting, it was taking over my herb garden. Next spring I’ll plant it in another location. Sages will come back here but I live north of Atlanta.”

    I have mine in a huge patio pot and it filled it up over the summer. I live south of Buffalo, NY. We are lucky to have the few months of summer here for gardening.

  10. 10
    Nunca el Jefe says:

    Not much from me on the gardening front, apart from noting that the recent cold nights in the Chicago area have killed off what was left of my basil after the whiteflies were done with it. AL mentioned a product called, I believe, Serenade. Does it help with those nasty critters?

    Finally, I woke up with this thought: as a group of them is called a murder of crows, so should a group of another kind be called “a douchebag of hipsters”. If this usage is already out there please forgive my ignorance.

  11. 11
    hep kitty says:

    Took me a while to figure it out, but cool picture!

  12. 12
    hep kitty says:


    My HOA is going to spend over $11,000, yes $11,000 in beautification of an area w/ no mention of my area which I have tried to improve on my own dime but it’s so bad you can’t tell I’ve done anything.

    I had to walk out of the meeting, pretending I had something I had to do, to keep from saying something not so nice.

    Normal annual expense for grounds, $1,000

  13. 13
    keestadoll says:

    Been busy on many fronts: cutting back/pulling out/harvesting herbs for drying, put in a ton of garlic (eight varieties), and almost completed the conversion of the raised beds into late fall-early spring crops. Just waiting on the tomatoes to do their thing, then I’ll turn over all that ground, mulch the daylights out of it, and let it sit.

    This has been our first garden and I’m pleased to report that since putting in starts in March, I haven’t had to buy one–not one–vegetable. Hot diggity damn–growing your own food is an empowering thing!

  14. 14
    donnah says:

    @Nunca el Jefe:

    TBogg calls them a “scrotum of teabaggers”

  15. 15
    the Conster says:


    Has she tried acupuncture? I fell on Mother’s Day weekend on my butt so hard that it sent the entire nerve cluster that generates sciatic pain into spasm and I was sure I had torn my hamstring. I couldn’t take any stride – I had to walk with limpy baby steps and couldn’t sit hardly at all. Five treatments with my local doctor of chinese medicine, and it was back to normal after about a month.

  16. 16
    jeffreyw says:

    @Nunca el Jefe: It has to be: A totebag of hipsters.

  17. 17
    jnfr says:

    We actually had a bit of snow this week, so I guess tomato season is over.

    Shallots are curing, and I picked the last of the peppers. Sunflowers and zinnias are still blooming like crazy though, which makes me happy.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    @the Conster: It’s under consideration. She went for the prelims at an osteopath that specializes in back pain in had a bone density test. Like you, she slipped and buster her ass a while back. She also broke her leg about five years ago and I’m sure that is contributing to her issues. She’s out there in a kimchi squat weeding right now so who knows???

  19. 19
    danielx says:

    Hard freeze tonight; time to pull up the last of the flowers and herbs….dammit. Tomato plants went last weekend.

  20. 20
    WaterGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: Too cute! In case I had any doubts before, one thing is now crystal clear: the kitties are in charge at your house. Excellent decision!

  21. 21
    Kristine says:

    @Nunca el Jefe:

    Not much from me on the gardening front, apart from noting that the recent cold nights in the Chicago area have killed off what was left of my basil after the whiteflies were done with it.

    Far NE Illinois, hello! My basil didn’t do well this year, either, but I blamed the heat. The plants flowered early and I let them go too long–the flowers sucked all the strength and even after I trimmed them back, the plants never recovered.

    I picked all the decent looking tomatoes–ripe ones and greenies–Friday night and stashed them in a cardboard box. I’ll pull out the plants later in the week. The weekend has been chilly, with daytime highs in the 40s, so the begonias and petunias are pretty much shot. Finches and sparrows are foraging through the remains of the bolted chard and lettuces.

    I’d have to rate this year’s garden a C+. If the Black Cherry hadn’t put forth like it did, a D. I hope next year is better.

  22. 22
    Violet says:

    Time to get in the winter vegetables. I have two more broccoli transplants I need to find a home for. I want to plant peas (sugar snap, snow) now and then plant again in a month or so. I’ve never tried them this early, so I’m kind of excited to see how it goes.

  23. 23
    waratah says:

    @TheMightyTrowel: Tomatoes do pretty good in pots and if you plant some peppers and cilantro you can make your own salsa.
    If you are still in the Sydney area you might stick a passion fruit in the ground near a fence for it climb.
    I think you can grow just about anything, my brother likes to go to the fetes and markets and heads for the people selling plants.

  24. 24
    Nunca El Jefe says:

    @jeffreyw: That is better. Maybe not as ascerbic as I’d prefer, but more on point.

    Kristine: everything sort of sucked for us. Our tomatoes all rotted before they ripened and our yellow and red bell peppers had these disgusting areas that were black and never matured. Our jalapeños and poblanos actually did quite well, actually, so mo major complaints. I just want to get it right next year. Maybe if there’s no drought…

  25. 25
    donquijoterocket says:

    @- the Mighty trowel-I see someone’s already mentioned chives. I would add Oregano, maybe some Parsley.

  26. 26
    Lost in America says:

    @Randy P: You’re probably used to seeing striped sunflower seeds, but it sounds like you unknowingly planted some black oil sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are actually preferred to striped sunflower seeds as bird feed because they have a higher oil content and thinner shells.

    Black oil and striped sunflowers are just separate strains/cultivars of the same species of sunflower, so I would expect that they could cross-pollinate or that you could find intermediates.

  27. 27
    Lost in America says:

    Here in northeast Minnesota, it got cold in a hurry, so I pulled all of the tomato plants–most of which had only produced a few ripe but had many green–and hung them in the garage to try and ripen a few more. I’ve had very limited success with that. My tomato growing was just sad this year.

    I also had banana, serrano, and pablano peppers this year–all terrible northern MN choices–that were producing fairly well but got some frostbite. I actually potted 5 of the plants and put them in my basement with a 50w grow bulb (also serves as a light for the cat to find her box at night) to see if I could plant them back in the garden next spring and get peppers early. Does anyone have any simple tricks for effectively overwintering hot peppers? I got a serrano through last year, but it sure didn’t like the first couple of weeks back outside.

    Next spring I plan on building a couple of fairly large raised beds….sort of a his and hers to keep the peace, since I like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and other “uprights” but my wife has no problem “wasting” an entire garden bed on a single, sprawling acorn squash plant. I think it would be fair for me to take the sunny spot and give her the partial shade, considering our preferred crops.

  28. 28
    Yutsano says:

    Thanks to a frost on the east side of Washington I’m going home with a bunch of acorn squash, some delicata (which I’ve never had but I’m dying to try!), and some maters, all from Mom’s garden. They did really well this year I must say.

  29. 29
    bemused says:

    @Lost in America:

    Also in NE MN. My tomato plants didn’t do squat either.

    The garden is getting tilled today and plan to plant garlic. I planted Music garlic last fall and they didn’t get huge but very tasty. Today I will plant Music again and try two others, Chesnok Red and Siberian.

  30. 30
    opie_jeanne says:

    I finally got home to the Seattle area yesterday, only been home about 30 hours since August 21.

    I looked at my somewhat neglected garden last night and discovered two huge pumpkins in one bed, two Cinderellas in another, several Kabochas in two other beds, and masses of tomatillos ready to be made into salsa verde. Loads of tomatoes and cucumbers, and all of these despite the neighbors and my kids using as much as they could. There are still a few ears of corn on the stalks, of which I have had none yet. Hope they are still edible.

    Oh, and two tiny eggplants have FINALLY made an appearance. Gardens are magic.

    The neighbor kids watered for us and picked up the mail, so I need to pay them now.

  31. 31
    WaterGirl says:

    Has anyone here ever grown pie pumpkins? I am thinking I’d like to do that next year. Any ideas or suggestions?

  32. 32
    Lost in America says:

    @bemused: NE MN! So is that how you do garlic…plant it the fall before?

    I’ve never tried. I need to find another tomato strategy. I’m terrible about knowing anything whatsoever about types, but think next year I’ll do a roma, a yellow, a standard red, and a couple of cherry tomato plants. I’ve heard a lot about pruning them, but I guess I didn’t get it right this year when I attempted.

    That said, the eggplant parm in the oven right now is sauced using some of the few tomatoes I did manage to harvest. :)

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @opie_jeanne: I LOVE kabocha! I need to talk my mom into growing those next year.

    Are you staying through Election Day? MikeJ, dollared, and I are invading the Montlake Alehouse that night and we’d love a BJ crowd! Plus two possible meetups in the future (or one big one depending on how things shake out) so I’d love to see you again! Not to mention we all need to meet Linnaeus besides just CaseyL!

  34. 34
    Maude says:

    Zinnias or Marigolds. They are still going strong here and it was hot here.

  35. 35
    Maude says:

    Blue Hubbard Squash makes wonderful pumpkin pie.

  36. 36
    bemused says:

    @Lost in America:

    Yes, in the fall after frost. They are not hard to grow, plant cloves point up 4 to 6 in apart with 2 in soil top. I tried to pick types for northern regions and hardnecks. A gardener friend said not to bother with the big elephant garlic…not much flavor.

    In the spring, early summer you can clip off the scapes, the green sprout on top that curls, and eat raw or cut up and throw into whatever you are cooking.

    It was hard to water the tomato plants consistently…the warm temps and dry spells and sporadic wet spells weren’t the best conditions for good tomatoes. I’m not an expert but the other year with warm temps and consistent rain, I had a tomato jungle and the plants were bending the metal supports and falling all over the place.

  37. 37
    Yutsano says:

    @Maude: So do, believe it or not, butternut squash!

  38. 38
    WaterGirl says:

    @Maude: @Yutsano: Thanks for the suggestions!

    I googled blue hubbard squash, and I see there is a baby blue hubbard, too. I might just try to grow that next year, along with butternut squash.

    I bought some pie pumpkins last week at the farmer’s market, but they were blue on the outside, not orange. I thought they looked kind of creepy at first, being kind of a blue-grey color, but I am growing quite fond of them now and think they are quite handsome.

  39. 39
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: I plan to be home on election day, one way or another, and that sounds like fun.

    I’ve been gone since August 21, except for 30 hours mid-September. Dave was at our place for a week, so the garden was a surprise. I thought we’d find a wasteland of dead plants.

    To see what we found in the garden when we got home last night, look here:

    There’s more but I haven’t photographed it yet.

  40. 40
    WaterGirl says:

    @opie_jeanne: How fun to come home and find all that stuff in your garden!

    That’s was kind of my friend’s response when he returned after being gone for 5 weeks this summer. I was flower waterer-in-chief, and he returned to happy flowers everywhere. He was very happy.

    So sorry to see from your photo page that you lost your dad in september of this year. So sorry, that’s so hard. I lost my dad in 1998, and I still miss him. But it does get better. If that’s the price I have to pay for being so close to my dad, it’s worth it.

  41. 41
    andy says:

    Harvested the last of my nightshades friday afternoon while a few stray flakes of snow blew around my head. It was kind of flukey (though they did have accumulations in the far NW of Minnesota), and we may even have a brown christmas like last year, but it’s all over except for the containers of chives and parsley- and the first hard frost will take care of that. Kind of wish I had been ambitious enough to plant kale or something like that after the aphids and bunnies ate up my chervil and fennel.

    Now kale- THAT gets better after a frost and I could be harvesting that shit right into december if I was lucky…

  42. 42
    Yutsano says:

    @opie_jeanne: PUNKINS!!

  43. 43
    opie_jeanne says:

    @WaterGirl: Thanks. Yeah, I miss Dad. He wasn’t perfect but he was my dad.

    The flowers in my garden were still going strong, but some areas are overrun with bindweed and buttercup so I will have my work cut out for me. We need to tear up some of the vegetable beds and get them ready for winter, and the sugar snap peas are still producing. I’ve never seen them do that this late.

    I have to go back to SoCal towards the end of the month to administer the trust, but I’ll only be gone a week and hopefully the weather won’t do something disastrous while I’m gone.

  44. 44
    opie_jeanne says:

    @Yutsano: Yeah, punkins. We’ve got some Cinderellas as well as the Big Max pumpkins. I think I need to pick one of the kabochas soon. My youngest swiped the nicest of the dark green ones, but there are a couple of them left as well as a gray variety. Next year we intend to cover the mound beyond the veggie garden with pumpkin plants, and we’ll probably grow these two varieties as well as a small sugar pumpkin for pies. I know I can make these into pies but the small sugar pumpkins are supposed to be very good.

    I am beginning to think I need a cold room.

  45. 45
    Yutsano says:

    @opie_jeanne: It’s been warm but not overly hot while you’ve been away, and that makes peas happy. I saw a TON of wild peas all over the place this summer, so they definitely thrived.

  46. 46
    Mitchel says:

    Oh! What happen to the sunflower? Thanks a lot for the share. Brilliant!

    Mitchel @ Cheap Sheds

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