Sunday Morning Garden Chat: “The Quiet Season”

From gifted gardener & photographer Marvel:

It’s been quiet over this-away.

After having pretty well buttoned up the garden for its long Winter’ rest, I was laid low with a bum knee (torn meniscus). Still waiting for surgery and getting about on a crutch.

Just wanted to share this shot of an artichoke out back. I usually cut the last few of them down & use ’em for decorative purposes, but this year I left a few to die & dry in place. Glad I did.

Well, here north of Boston, we finally got our killing freeze — in fact, three days of record-breaking cold temps, according to the tv weatherpeople. Now I just have to get outside during the brief daylight window and finish prepping our yard for the winter. Or at least take down the rest of the tomato ladders and move the potted roses into the garage, assuming I can nag the Spousal Unit into making space for them…

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?






72 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’m still cleaning up the garden. Picked a mess of dried pole beans yesterday, got another mess to pick today. I planted 4 different types for drying and I’m trying to remember what they were. Missouri Wonder I know, grew them last year and they did really well and quite tasty too. Good Mother Stallard, also. Cherokee Trail of Tears a black bean that is new to me appears to have done well and the 4th….. (looking at Baker Creek website….) …..

    Nothing jogs my memory. I guess I’ll just have to be surprised when I shell them.

  2. 2

    in fact, three days of record-breaking cold temps

    So, I guess the kid chose the right weekend to visit Boston.

  3. 3

    @OzarkHillbilly: Maybe they’re magic beans. Is there a young man that responds to ‘Jack’ around?

  4. 4
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: If the magic beans are anything like magic mushrooms you guys may not see as much of me in the coming months.

  5. 5
    raven says:

    The kudzu is reacting but we still need a freeze to kill it. The Chinese Tallow tree is starting to yield the white berries so the boss lady can harvest and make some wreaths. Oh yea, the #1 Dawgs got crushed by the hated Aubarn Tigers.

  6. 6
    Jeff says:

    The arugula made it though the arctic blast in Philadelphia. The ground didn’t freeze. Maybe by spring I will have cleaned up the flower beds.

  7. 7
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @raven:

    Oh yea, the #1 Dawgs got crushed by the hated Auburn Tigers.

    Quite the smack down at that.

  8. 8
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄😄😄

  9. 9
    bystander says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA:

    So, I guess the kid chose the right weekend to visit Boston.

    Chill and fog can make Boston more charming than a bright sunny day. Especially when you’re used to one and a half seasons.

  10. 10
    MomSense says:

    I still have some raking and storm clean up to finish. No big trees came down in my yard but there are lots of branches and twigs everywhere.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    Marvel, The picture of the artichoke is amazing.

    Yesterday was leaf day, I have fifteen bags, and two trash cans. I also mulched some and spread the mulch around beds. The rest of the leafs will be mulched. In my back yard, I just blow the leafs into the woods.

  12. 12
    Baud says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning.

  13. 13
    bystander says:

    I was reading the other day that Polybius reasoned that democracies can devolve into mob rule. After 200 years of avoiding that, sometimes better than others, it seem with Shit Midas in the WH we have devolved into mob rule, and the mob doesn’t even represent the majority.

    Trigger warning: Donna Brazile on AM Joy today. I really do not expect a softball interview by Joy, either.

  14. 14
    MomSense says:

    @bystander:

    Good. I hope Joy cuts through the BS on this.

  15. 15
    satby says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning rikyrah and everyone else! 🌞

    Right now at 35° it’s already warmer than the last two freezing days have been. I have to work today, but the next couple of days will be warm enough for me to get outside and mulch the newest flower bed with all the leaves I have to rake anyway, cover the rose bushes and my baby shrubs for winter, and trim back the iris leaves. My one reblooming iris always picks late Oct – early Nov. to begin a new flower stalk, so just before the freeze it was cut and brought inside to enjoy.

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    Our first snow this weekend… very late for us.

  17. 17
    satby says:

    And I’m still plowing through all the garden tomatoes I brought inside to ripen before the hard freeze when I cleared out the vines a week ago. I’m thinking of getting a dehydrator just to deal with it all. But I’ll probably just make sauce and be done with them. Next year not going to plant so many!

  18. 18
    Peter says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I just planted tarbais and dragon’s tongue this year. Next year I have plans for more beans, and also peanuts; I found a type that does well in this area.

  19. 19
    Peter says:

    @satby: I just made a green tomato jam that was well received at a party on Friday night. 3.5:1 tomatoes to sugar by weight, and one third of the sugar was honey from my local beekeepers. I threw in a couple of lemon drop chilies for a little lingering heat. It kills with hard cheeses and pâté.

  20. 20
    ThresherK says:

    Until I read the caption, I thought it was a sunflower with all the seeds removed.

    The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Plants has secured a court order which prevents me from any and all gardening attempts. It is probably for the best.

  21. 21
    Aleta says:

    We discovered some bittersweet in a rose bush that we didn’t have before. There had been one up in the top of a very tall spruce that fell on the house 5 years ago. (The thickness of its branches cushioned the fall so well that there was almost no roof damage, even though it lay clear across the house and over the skylights.) This bittersweet is quite different than the kind in the park, so (because the spruce was so old) I want to see if it might be the native kind that is not as invasive as the oriental kind that got introduced, took over, and chokes trees. Anyway, I cut the new vine in the yard back, and hung the bittersweet next to the front door. The rest in a vase against a white tile wall. Lots of wild apples picked a month ago, still in the fridge for pies soon.

  22. 22
    JMG says:

    Dear Marvel: Your Sunday photographs give this non-gardener a great deal of pleasure. I can only hope my own experience with a torn meniscus gives you some comfort. Within two weeks of surgery I was fine. Of course, all bodies, surgeries different. etc., etc. but it was not a disruptive experience.

  23. 23
    oldgold says:

    You took photo-shot of an artichoke just to watch it die? That sounds like a fulsome fall gardening activity. Are you from Reno?

  24. 24
    debbie says:

    That is a very cool picture, Marvel. I had no idea that’s what artichokes eventually grew into. Are there seeds in there somewhere?

  25. 25
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Peter: I prefer pole beans to bush. This year for the first time in many years I planted bush for my fresh green (Calima) and wax beans (Beurre De Rocquencourt). I was disappointed. The production just wasn’t there. I think I managed to put up just 6 pints and at most we had fresh beans for dinner on 10 occasions. I’m going back to the French Emerite and French Gold from Renees Garden Seeds. They are just too good and plentiful all the way into September.

  26. 26
    Immanentize says:

    Beautiful artichoke! This week, in anticipation of our first 20 degree nights, I had to pick all the remaining viable tomatoes and peppers, cut copious amounts of herbs, bring in the potted herb plants, dig out the leeks and lemon grass and generally collapse as the hard frost started killing what leaves remain on bushes and trees.

    Very satisfying.

  27. 27
    satby says:

    @Immanentize:

    pick all the remaining viable tomatoes

    That’s what I did, and I have at least 40!

    How’d the satby one do?

  28. 28
    charluckles says:

    @satby:

    How does one prep roses and shrubs for winter? I planted a lot of stuff thats new to me this fall and some of it is technically just outside of my zone. Advice is appreciated, Im on a steep learning curve.

  29. 29
    Immanentize says:

    @satby: poor Satby box. I had planted yellow pear in the box in order to keep it from whatever wilt I have in my garden soul. But it got the wilt anyway! So I am thinking it must be an airborne problem rather than a soil issue as the Satby box had all fresh soil….

    So that project ended in July. But I am trying again next year! I love yellow pear tomatoes so very much.

    ETA. JUST COUNTED — 27 Tomatoes, 12 Annaheim peppers, and a whopping 37 Poblano peppers. Bounty for the neighbors!

  30. 30

    Its the end game here. All that could be brought in ahead of the killing cold is waiting in the garage to be moved and arranged for winter living. Anything that could be harvested (tomatoes, lettuce, herbs) was picked last week when it was warm. Today is raking up the last of the storm debris & leaves, stowing the patio furniture, covering up the firepit. *sigh*
    On the upside, I caught the compost on a nice bounce, have a good ‘winter’ batch prepped to receive the veggie scraps through the cold months; in the spring it will wake up and become the first batch to go into the flower gardens, and the cycle begins anew.

    @Immanentize: Sounds like we are at a similar latitude!

    @ThresherK: *laughs*

  31. 31
    Jeffro says:

    Kind of excited about the week ahead, cooking-wise: Mediterranean chicken, pasta w/ sweet Italian sausage & broccolini, chicken enchiladas, and some spring(!) miso soup to make bringing my lunch worthwhile.

    The Post had an interesting “Southwest-Style Turkey Hash With Creamy Avocado-Cilantro Sauce” recipe, but that’ll have to wait until NEXT week!

    Have a happy Sunday everyone!

  32. 32
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    I am Where Gardens Come To Die, but my wife and I are contemplating an indoor herb garden this winter. She wants a ready supply of basil, rosemary and dill. I have two motivations: (1) Just recently re-discovered the cilantro seed packet I bought in the spring and immediately forgot to plant and (2) every once in a while when we go to a Pho restaurant I like to bring home a sprig of the Thai basil and see if I can get it to root, just for the heck of it (for those who don’t know it, this Vietnamese beef soup is usually served with a dish piled up with mung bean sprouts, jalapeno, lime slices, and clippings of the aforementioned plant)

    The latest Thai basil seems to be thriving, so I think I’ll try to keep it going and get a mature plant out of it, even though neither one of us knows quite what to do with it, and my wife is the spice queen, she uses EVERYTHING. It’s such a distinctive flavor, I’m not sure what it goes in besides Pho.

  33. 33
    aimai says:

    No gardening for me. I’m at a coffee shop working on notes about my patients and getting ready to go to the library to try to finish a paper (for my Racial Justice Class) on “Take the Knee” and the hegemonic pushback. After many a false start and a lot of anxiety I am finally buckled down, its due tonight, then I get to finishsh a paper for my ethics class on the Tuskegee Experiment. Fascinating. But I really am very over writing papers. Sometimes I think I was full to resubmit myself to this formulaic experience of being a student, at my age. But I am learning so much from working with actual patients that I consider the papers a kind of tax I have to pay to get to do this work. And, of course, these two papers are fascinating and important. I have more trouble facing writing a paper, powerpoint, script, and video about family therapy for my family therapy class. If I’d wanted to be a multi-media filmmaker I wouldn’t have decided to get my MSW. And its freezing! But I walked in to the library so I will also get a three mile walk in. So that is my day.

  34. 34
    Peter says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: tarbais are pole and they’re my favorite. I brought the seeds back from France five years ago and they’re very happy here. Great yields, and incredible flavor and texture. I like scarlet runners too and will plant those next year.

  35. 35
    newdealfarmgrrrlll says:

    As usual, I’m frantically doing garden tasks up until the moment the ground freezes too hard to deal and/or snow covers everything for the rest of the year. My big accomplishment this year despite little free time to work in my yard was to get almost all the north side of my front yard planted with prairie natives.

  36. 36

    @aimai: It’s hard to be a student again as an adult, I think. Your papers are at least about interesting topics.

    I’m sick with a cold that’s dragged on and on, so I plan to spend the day doing nothing useful.

  37. 37
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    Thank you for the marvelous artichoke photo! We spent yesterday afternoon applying winterizer fertilizer, compost, and mulch to our fruit tree saplings, currant, raspberry, and gooseberry bushes, and other perennials. Our October hailstorm shredded the plants and churned the garden into mud, but we hope most of the plants will revive come spring. A drove of pocket gophers have moved in and traps have been set. This is war.

    @OzarkHillbilly: I tried bush beans this year with little success. Will give pole beans a whirl next time. Can’t wait for my winter dreaming seed catalogs!

  38. 38
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Peter: Where are you located? I’m always looking for new stuff to try.

  39. 39
    Ohio Mom says:

    @aimai: Is there any way to tweak the papers into publishable articles? That might make writing them more bearable.

    But I know what you mean about feeling beyond the rituals of studenthood. I thought about going back to school, also for a MSW, about ten years ago, but could not stomach the idea of studying for tests and homework. Get enough of that supervising my kid’s academic career.

  40. 40
    JMG says:

    @aimai: As a retired sportswriter. Take the Knee fascinates me. In contemporary terms, it is interesting to contrast the movement with the absolute supine posture of the players’ union. In historical terms, worth noting that the person most responsible for integrating southern college football was Bear Bryant, who said that black players most reminded him of himself as a dirt-poor young player in 1930s Alabama.

  41. 41
    WereBear says:

    @Ohio Mom: When I went back, the dreams about being naked, last day of the semester, and not only didn’t study for the final, I had a thirty page paper due in about an hour… those came back :)

  42. 42
    Baud says:

    @aimai: I got exhausted just from reading your comment.

  43. 43
    rikyrah says:

    @Immanentize:
    Great haul…. lucky neighbors 😄

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    @aimai:
    Sounds like a busy day .
    Good luck with the papers .

  45. 45
    satby says:

    @charluckles: depending on how cold it can potentially get, cover tender new plants with mulch or Styrofoam rose cones. For my newest little shrubs, I put big gulp sized Styrofoam cups over them (I don’t drink soda so people at work save them for me), and then mulch over or around them. For larger plants, the rose cones, with mulch around the bases. New trees I used tree tubes, here’s a few tips on those. You can buy them on Amazon.

  46. 46
    satby says:

    And some mope I haven’t exchanged a word with in almost a decade chose this morning to pick a fight with me on FB, over that unqualified Tally kid just confirmed to the federal bench. So annoying, but I dumped her off the friends list, so there’s that.

  47. 47
    Immanentize says:

    @rikyrah: imagonna make a pork and leek stew with chopped ‘maters today. Perfect for the cold and for using excess last grabs from the garden.

  48. 48
    Immanentize says:

    @charluckles: @satby:
    I usually just mulch my more delicate plants in with leafs and rakings, but the styrofoam idea is excellent for smaller plants. I am definitely trying that!

    But!! Please remember to remove leaf mulching early in the Spring because it makes a perfect place for harmful bugs and beetles to grow (and attack your young plants)

  49. 49
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: Just be aware that growing herbs indoors requires a huge amount of direct sun, especially in the winter. It can be done, but that is essential or they sulk and get leggy.

  50. 50
    Peter says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Hudson Valley NY. Happy to swap seeds; I brought back Espelette peppers from France as well and they’re fantastic.

  51. 51
    Immanentize says:

    @satby: my one consolation regarding these neophyte winger judges is that they just will not last very long. This happened with a number of Reagan and Bush II judges. They quit two or three years after appointment. Being a judge is hard work, tedious, and not a job you can slag off. Many of these new candidates will just not cut it. Nor will they like the bad pay.

  52. 52
    satby says:

    @Immanentize: @charluckles: yes, this! As soon as it starts to warm into the higher 30s at night in the spring you can start pulling that off.

  53. 53
    No Drought No More says:

    Marvel: For what it’s worth, I also had surgery on my knee for the same reason, and it went beautifully. That was over 25 years ago, and I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life. No kidding.

    Of course, no doubt you’ve heard of the horribly botched, torn meniscus surgical horror stories, too. Ignore them. A great many of them are embellished, maybe most.

  54. 54
    eclare says:

    @Immanentize: That is good to hear.

  55. 55
    Schlemazel says:

    @Immanentize:
    I hope you are right but I bet many will slag off & count on the work of clerks and others to cover for them. It also wouldn’t surprise me it the pay is more than some of them were getting before the appointment. But for their time on the bench they will manage to do a lot of damage.

  56. 56
    StringOnAStick says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: Look for a bush bean variety called Jade; I have to grow in large self watering pots and hot but erratic weather is an issue here and this variety always performs well. I like that after the first harvest they just keep performing all summer with enough for two people every two days for months. Given my less than ideal growing situation, other varieties have produced one big flush, then nothing for weeks followed by a little just as our short season is winding down.

    Another thing I love is Picolino cucumbers. 5 seeds is $5 and they are hard to find in catalogs but the plants are all female, the cukes small, sweet and extremely prolific plus seedless (hence the high price for seeds). I’ve never had another cucumber be even remotely as prolific in a container as this variety is.

  57. 57
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Peter: Then they should grow just fine in the hills and hollers. Never mind swapping, I can get them from Baker Creek.

  58. 58
    aimai says:

    @Ohio Mom: Hah! No, I don’t want any publishable articles. I was only able to go back to school for this degree because I acknowledged something about myself that I had always refused to admit: I don’t want to publish. That is heresy in my family! My mother remembers, as a child, asking about a new person “what him wrote?” Like Darwin’s child thinking everyone studied their earthworms every afternoon, as Darwin did. This is why I didn’t go back and get another PH.D. in psychology. I really just wanted to do clinical work and figured I could read/learn what I needed on my own. Which is true.

    It is incredibly funny doing this while my daughters are both in college. Gives me much less to lecture them about–nothing, in fact, since we are all at the same stage of procrastination and weeping.

  59. 59
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @No Drought No More:

    torn meniscus surgical horror stories,

    I’ve got one of those. And I don’t have to embellish it either. I’ve got the scars to prove it.

  60. 60
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @satby: Yeah, I saw that exchange. I’ve had similar exchanges about gun control and the second amendment with RWNJ “friends” from high school. They are consistent in their incapacity to deal with facts and data. Their worldview, as best I can tell, is based entirely on feelings and they always retreat to their allegedly superior feelings-knowledge when they can’t argue on the substance of the issues. At the core, they feel aggrieved and threatened by…shall we say….Others. Like Trump they bully and whine in turn.

    To borrow from their own t-shirt slogans, fuck their feelings.

  61. 61
    JanieM says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym: I keep pots of basil and rosemary on my windowsill. Being lazy these days, I didn’t start them from scratch. I bought a pot of rosemary from a local farmstand several years ago and it’s still going strong. For basil I buy tiny $3 pots from the grocery store, re-pot them into bigger containers, and keep them until they (per @StringOnAStick) get too leggy to be useful. They sit in a directly east-facing window in a room that also has west-facing windows and a skylight. The basil especially needs to be kept well watered. I’ve also tried cilantro, and now that you’ve got me thinking about it I might try again since I love it so much. But IIRC it was even more apt to get leggy than the basil.

    It’s wonderful to be able to reach over and get some fresh herbs off the windowsill. Sometimes I do it just for the sake of the smell in my hands. :-)

  62. 62
    LaNonna says:

    Quiet Sunday here, planted a few antique grape varieties to add to our edible pergola, cooked a farro risotto with 5 varieties of mushrooms, getting ready to watch Girls Trip for some evening entertainment. The autumn rains have started, now is tree, vine, and bulb planting time.

  63. 63
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @StringOnAStick: Thanks for the bush bean and cuke tips! I’ll look for Jade, which is a nice name since I lived many years in Hong Kong and have fond memories of going to the Jade Market (mainly just enjoying the ambiance, not buying).

  64. 64
    Ohio Mom says:

    @aimai: Yes, your circumstances are unusual. I only mentioned publishing because even as an undergraduate, I found writing papers about subjects which my sole audience member knew more about than I ever would, somewhat absurd.

    And what is it about school that so often reduces us to panic and despair? In the past twenty years, I have certainly read and thought about autism and disability enough for at least one graduate degree. I have had plenty of self doubt about my mothering but the studying, that almost always brings relief.

  65. 65
    chris says:

    PSA: Be careful around the Danger Bush!

  66. 66
    geg6 says:

    Garden was put to bed weeks ago here. Not our best year, probably because of lack of rain. We did have bumper crops of green and wax beans and pears. So many pears!

    Been cooking comfort food all weekend since this cold snap has inspired it. Made a delicious beef stew last night, which will yield plenty of leftovers for weeknight dinners and get more delicious over time. Making chicken and rice soup today with the rest of the roasted chicken I made the other night. That, with grilled cheddar cheese on sourdough with green apple slices and arugula, will be on the menu tonight.

  67. 67
    laura says:

    We’ve got some good cover crop seeds for the raised bed, but the zinnias continue to crank out huge blooms and the bees and butterflys are still spending all day working them over so I’m reluctant to pull them out.
    Today’s a day for minstrone soup so I’m hoping to snag a bag of fresh cranberry beans. The Barbagelata family farm’s dry beans cook up Fast! Then it’s off to see Loving Vincent for soothing, swirling colors to prepare for whatever the week has in store. Wishing a gentle Sunday for all and sundry.
    Off topic, we drove through the burned areas in Sonoma and Napa counties yesterday and we’re just struck by the still strong smell of fire and ash, buy mostly by the sheer randomness of the fire damage -some of the fires appear to have burned progressively with a clear fire line. In other areas it’s as though fire balls landed hit and miss with untouched homes and buildings surrounded by total loss. Despite the autumn colors there is an undeniable somberness. Had Seaboogie on my mind and hopes that he is doing okay.

  68. 68
    Marvel says:

    @debbie: Re artichoke seeds (“Are there seeds in there somewhere?”) — yes. The seeds are embedded in the “heart” – you harvest the seeds by pulling out the bristles (the seeds hang on to the bristles and let go of the heart).

  69. 69
    debbie says:

    @Marvel:

    Thanks. I’ll have to pay more attention to the heart next year.

  70. 70
    J R in WV says:

    Thanks for the amazing artichoke photo, recognized it immediately once nudged by the name in the description! So analytical and perceptive ;-)

    Have never seen an artichoke in the wild before, much less one finished, ripened and gone to seed. Very interesting! Thanks, all for the garden babble, so wonderful to hear you all describe the late season fruits of your labor.

    We would have to build a stalag fence to keep the deer off any garden, and it would be 1/4 mile from the house, down on the bottom. Plus stooping and kneeling isn’t friendly to my lower back, which once gave me lots of trouble when I didn’t understand that stooping and kneeling was causing my lower back to hurt a whole lot. Now that I’ve stopped, my back doesn’t hurt so much!!! Amazeballs!!!

  71. 71
    StringOnAStick says:

    @O. Felix Culpa: Jade is a great green bean; green beans are my favorite summer veggie and what you can buy in the store doesn’t even come close to what you can grow, plus if it isn’t organic then it is pretty heavily dosed on pesticides. Jade is supposed to be picked young as a filet bean, but it is so productive that 16 plants in 2 self watering pots keeps us happily in beans most of the summer with a much shorter “lull” that most beans do after that first big harvest.

    Given that we have space for at most 4 large self watering pots, I’m pretty picky about what I plant. I’ve officially given up on tomatoes after years of experimenting in this growing situation, something I never thought I’d say but there it is (I love tomatoes!). I can get excellent heirlooms and organic tomatoes at my local organo-market. That has become my criteria; if I can buy it locally and it is as good as what I can raise myself, then I do. Now I do one pot of herbs, 2 of bush beans and one of Picolino cucumbers since I rarely see those for sale even at the farmer’s market. The rest of our property is either a deer and elk feeding zone (the back yard is next to open space) of too shady (front yard). 4 pots along the sunny edge of the driveway is all there is, and years of experimentation has reduced the frustration and increased the harvest. I miss having a real yard with real dirt and a garden, but the backyard open space and view of the mountains is a great way to feed the soul on a daily basis so we aren’t moving from this lucky location.

  72. 72
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    @StringOnAStick: I’m late back to the thread, but wanted to say I appreciate your info and your description of your view, which sounds lovely. What mountains do you look out on?

    I do a mix of in-ground and container gardening. I have several self-watering containers that I used on my 7th floor balcony in Chicago and brought with me to my new rural environs. The containers are still amazingly productive!

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