This is the view from my back porch this morning, as I contemplated the conversion from summer to fall. The tomatoes are still green, but they are no longer producing new fruit, and what was left on the vines was so damaged by a recent hailstorm that it won’t be edible.
After mixing seedmeal, bonemeal, dolomitic lime, compost and manure to amend the soil, I tackled each bed, ripping out the dying plants and planting new seed for greens, onion and garlic. The tomato bed was especially difficult to uproot – not physically, of course, but emotionally. It doesn’t feel so long ago that it was February, and I was building that bed out of scrap wood: turning the clay earth and adding topsoil to break it up, and sweating in my hat, sweater and jeans. It wouldn’t be right to wait until the plants were dead before turning over the bed, though: by then the days would be so short, and the soil so cool that the seeds for the spinach and kale I’d wanted to plant might not germinate.
After about 4 hours of hard work, voila!
Out back, I trimmed the turnip greens still thriving, and gave them and the baby onions (recovering nicely after withering in the August heat) a good layer of nutritious soil. Beyond the fence, in the terrace beds, I planted two kinds of headed lettuce: buttercrunch and jericho. I left the georgia streak and cherokee purple tomato plants where they were (I couldn’t tear up all my tomato plants, now could I?!) and left the pepper plants where they were. They looked far too healthy to destroy!
My garden had two lovely surprises waiting for me in the terrace beds: the artichoke I feared dead and gone this Spring has come back to life, and the tomatillos I’d given up on are experiencing quite the renaissance.
(At least, that’s what I think these are. I don’t remember planting any ground cherries, which look similar.)
The really nice thing about moving to raised beds and out of containers is that Fall can be as fun as Spring for the all-year gardener.