By Mary Honrud
For The Courier 

Green Spaces in Rural Places:

Farewell for the Season


Mary Honrud / For The Courier

Mary's raspberries continued producing as late as Oct. 2.

This gardening season has been unusually long. Normally by now, I've had several frosts and a hard freeze, which kills off all the above ground vegetation. There have been a couple light frosts this past week but I haven't had a hard freeze yet.

The husk cherries and delicate pepper plants have turned black and wilted away. The tomato vines would have also except I'd already picked all the fruits and uprooted the plants. Those are still in a pile, awaiting their turn at being hauled away to my discard pile. (Tomato vines need to be removed as they can harbor diseases that lurk in the soil and can ruin next year's tomato crop. I never plant tomatoes in the same spot two years in a row.)

I use my well-worn wheelbarrow extensively this time of year. It holds a goodly amount of dead plants. My discard pile is in a gap in the shelterbelt trees just to the north of the garden space. The bottom two strands of wire on the electric fence get slid to the top of the posts so I can push the wheelbarrow through and then I duck under to empty the load and go back for more.

I'm sure there's a great amount of compost under the discard pile, but it's too much work for me to go after now. And in the spring it's too wet and mucky. Plus I worry about all the discarded raspberry canes with their thorns in there. I'm afraid they don't break down quickly enough.

Of course the electric fence is turned off now. I no longer care if the deer or raccoons come calling. The corn is long gone, which was the main attraction for the coons. The lettuces and tender blossoms on the honeyberry, sand cherry, and gooseberry bushes are also long past, which seemed to be the items the deer liked to munch upon.

Last week, I experienced a first for me: I was able to pick several handfuls of fresh raspberries on Oct. 2. None of them made it into the house, but were consumed on the spot. The canes have always tried to give me a second crop, but those killing frosts occurred long before the end of September, ending any hope of more berries. I had picked strawberries towards the end of September many years ago, out of a light accumulation of snow. But that strawberry patch suffered winterkill shortly after. I never knew what variety of plant I had back then, and I've never been able to replicate my past success with them.

This week my agenda includes pulling the two fences I'd put up, one for peas and one for the glads and runner beans. I'll have to dig out the posts I'd put in as they really get set after being watered all summer. The fencing itself is heavy duty wire, and I tie it to the posts with the legs cut off old pantyhose (does anyone still wear those these days?). It's remarkably strong, stretchy and flexible. I also use it to tie my hoses together for winter storage. I'll dig out the posts supporting the electric fence on the south side of the garden, and fold back the wires so I can get in there next spring with the riding tiller.

The glads are through blooming, so I'll dig the bulbs and let the foliage die back. They'll dry in the garage for several days, then the leaves will get cut off a few inches above the bulbs. I will store them in an old potato sack, with a light dusting of Sevin in case there are any insects with them.

The dahlias are still producing an abundance of blossoms. I have one plant that's about 7 feet tall. So I'll postpone digging those tubers for a while yet.

Even the zinnias are still blooming, which is surprising. I thought the frost that took the husk cherries would have zapped them, too. I haven't yet dug the carrots or the remaining five hills of potatoes. And I still haven't done anything with the rest of the golden beets.

I've also collected lots of dill seed. They are hard to separate from the wispy stems that held them on the flowers. I'll have dill all through the garden again next year. The ripened seeds seem to leap off the plants as you pass by. The same applies to the cilantro, which had all gone to seed long ago.

In fact, there are a few plants coming on now. The seed cilantro produces is known as coriander. I've collected a lot of that seed, too. Wikipedia tells me that coriander is best if freshly ground as needed since it quickly loses flavor. And it can be heated or roasted and eaten as is. I haven't tried that yet. I have delivered both coriander and dill seed to Ransoms in Glasgow, if you'd like to try roasting some coriander.

I'm sure I'll still be puttering around my garden and yard for some weeks to come. There's always more that can be done. I just might not be writing about it.


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