So you grew your own vegetables. Holy shit. Look at you being all homesteady and everything. For most things it's the end of the season, but you still* have some work to do for next season.
October in the vegetable garden is literally time for you to taste the fruits (and vegetables) of your labour. With little more than water, sun, seeds & soil you have created FOOD. From scratch.
We’ve entered the month where everything that can be picked probably has been. If you grew long term storage vegetables you still have squash, potatoes, carrots and other things that can be tucked neatly away until it’s time to roast them up.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here because you still have a few things left to do in the garden before you button it up for the season.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM OCTOBER
October is the month of celebrating your harvest. In fact, in Canada October is the month that Thanksgiving is held in celebration of the fall harvest. So if you haven’t got everything picked that needs to be picked you’d best get on that.
TIP: There are some exceptions. Brussels sprouts and carrots for example get sweeter if they endure a little bit of frost. Kale is also VERY frost tolerant and you can leave it in the garden and continue picking from it for months! It won’t grow any more but it won’t wilt away and die either.
- Pick any remaining vegetables before they're obliterated by frost.
- Clean up all the vines, leaves and debris laying around so it doesn’t spread disease into next year. Leaves and debris are also great hiding places for larvae and bugs and slugs to hibernate in for the winter.
- Prepare your beds for the spring by weeding them, raking them level and topping them with 3” or so of compost. You will NOT want to do this so on the next nice day FORCE yourself to go out and enjoy this task. In the spring you will be thanking me.
- Start planning next year’s garden.
What can be planted this month.
You heard me right. YOU HAVE PLANTING TO DO.
Garlic – Hardneck garlic that grows in cooler zones, like my Zone 6 should be planted anywhere from the beginning to the end of October. I tend to shoot for the early part of the middle of the month. You can find heads of garlic for planting at local nurseries and even some hardware stores that sell bulbs. You can read all about exactly how to plant garlic here.
Common garlic varieties
“Music” – nice big cloves
“Russian Red” – stores really well long term
“Chesnok Red” – beautiful colour and sweet (as far as garlic goes anyway)
Once all those things are done you can call it a season.
Now you can look forward to eating some of those root vegetables throughout the winter in soups, stews, and pies. You’ll also find that winter is a good time to remember your tomatoes fondly while scoffing at the mealy, anemic store bought ones staring back at you in the produce aisle.
Maybe you were even proactive and picked and stored your green tomatoes to ripen inside. In which case, gold star for you.
This year I had a GOOD carrot harvest. I grew 40 pounds of them. How? I kept planting them because I kept thinking they weren't germinating. They were. 😆
In the fall I make a double or triple batch of my Szechuan carrot soup 🥕, flat pack them so they take up almost no room in the freezer like I show you here and then whenever I want a bowl of soup and bread for dinner I can just grab a portioned bag and heat it up.
This soup doesn't just look good - it is good. DELICIOUS in fact. With a whack of pepper flakes it can warm you up from the inside out on a cold winter night.
Szechuan Carrot Soup Recipe
If you have these things on hand you can make carrot soup tonight.
1 medium onion - How to grow onions
2 stalks celery
1 garlic clove, minced - How to grow garlic
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb carrots, cut 1″ - How to grow carrots
½″ piece of fresh ginger (peeled & sliced)
¼ teaspoon pepper flakes - How to make pepper flakes or powder
3 cups chicken broth - How to can chicken broth
1 ½ Tbsps soy sauce
½ tablespoon peanut butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil (I use toasted)
1 cup milk
Click through to the carrot soup post for the step-by-step instructions.
If you made some mistakes this year or had trouble with pests you might think you’re not cut out for vegetable gardening. But I want you to remember that I have faith in you. I believe in you.
You are smarter than a cabbage moth. I just know you are. Maybe not a slug, but a cabbage moth for sure.
Congrats on completing the final chapter of this gardening journey. It has been an educational and fun adventure. That carrot soup sounds like a real winner. I'm not a fan of hot & spicy so I was pleased to see there's just a minimum amount of "heat" in the ingredients. I'll definitely give it a try. Thanks for sharing. Soon enough it will be Winter and a nice bowl of hot soup will be much appreciated. Flat packing liquids is a sound approach.
Hey Randy! You can just omit the heat entirely if you want. Although - if I were you I'd add a teeny bit just to balance flavours. ~ karen!
Has Betty recovered from the Covid?
Almost! She is just exhausted still. On and off. But other than that no other symptoms. ~ karen!
Omg! You crack me up. Thanks for all the tips this season. I had a wildly successful garden this year. Even with the pests trying to defeat me! Already planning for next year.
You're welcome! I'm whipping through these comments so I can get to my garden and plant garlic. It's the first half decent day we've had in a while and I hate planting garlic while my nose runs. It's just a bad situation. ~ karen!
Next up: Growing our own Ginger & Turmeric!
(& Horseradish?) In pots or the ground!
Hint hint. Wink wink. Bats of innocent lashes.
Or is that innocent bats with long lashes?
Hmm, now I'm lost...
Ps. Started ginger in one of two potato pots I had, it is nearly 6 inches tall, yay! Now to keep it alive till next year to actually get some ginger...
Finally found some turmeric root to plant in second potato pot. Has not sprouted yet. Had to wait to plant it till the sweet potato was done with the pot anyway. Got 1 sweet potato, my first! Ooo! It's so tiny and cute! About 3 inches long. Ooo!
I think it's been about two weeks so I shall attempt to eat it soon. It's so pretty and pink! Adorable really. How am I supposed to eat it?! My cute little baby! Oy!
Ok, this is getting wierd. And emotional. Bye.
LOL!! ~ karen
I don’t know…those darn cabbage moths are pretty smart…looking like some cute little butterfly and then attack! Lol
Garden is all cleaned up, raked and ready for next year! Gotta get the garlic in though.
The three best things I learned this year was your tip on germinating carrots! Got a nice little crop. Will plant more next year now that I’ve got the hang of it.
Second is tying up your zucchini plants. Worked like a charm and kept things much cleaner.
Another is planting sage in with my eggplant. Those flea beetles hate that stuff and I hate them. Win win!
Thank you for all the knowledge you impart to us all and the laughter.
Till next year. We’ll be starting seeds before you know it!🍆🌶🥒🥦🌽🥕
Next up how to store/prolong your sweet potatoes? (I say your because I followed your sprouting advice and now have 3x20’ lines of them, they just kept sprouting!)
Also I became the sweet potato pie source (never made pies, hint google Patti LaBelle recipe, omg.) and I look to you on preserving those.
So much responsibility.
Seriously you’re a joy. Enjoy the Fall.
Hi Terry! Thanks. :) All those curing and storage instructions are in the sweet potato post. :). ~ karen!
Thanks, re-saved! Same for potatoes? Rot after frost?
"You will NOT want to do this so on the next nice day FORCE yourself to go out and enjoy this task."
Looks like this weekend it will finally stop bucketing rain and I can get the garlic in the ground (once it un-saturates a bit!)
So NOT enthused. Thanks for the pep talk
I'm doing the same thing today! And it is nice out so I'm going to force myself to enjoy it even though I'm ready to be done with it all. The planting of garlic will be fine. The cleanup that is going to follow for the rest of the day will be the PAIN. Good luck to you! Think of me as you're grumbling through it, lol. ~ karen!
Your photo of the community veg garden would make an excellent puzzle!!!!!!!!
This was an excellent series for gardening. As I love it so much, I've always thought I was related to a cabbage moth. How is Betty?
Betty is much better thanks! Still very tired but on the mend. ~ karen!
Mostly our garden consists of heirloom tomatoes and like you said, the green ones are all nicely laid out on newspaper in our basement. They ripen perfectly this way so we can roast them and freeze them for sauces, etc. (they take up way less room that way). I make soup often (all year round actually) and the tomatoes in the grocery store just don't make the cut. We
live in northern Illinois and we've had freezing temps overnight several times already.
I've always wanted to try planting garlic as we use alot of it - maybe I will his year.Thanks for the fun and amusing posts - I just found your site and look forward to it popping up !
Welcome Chris! I currently have a freezer full of bags of whole tomatoes that I still have to press. And today just happens to be garlic planting day for me. :) ~ karen
Yup, garden put to bed after another successful season. I always make notes of what worked and what didn't. Those notes go out the window when the seed catalogues start coming in though.
And that is the sign of a true gardener. Equal parts practicality and lunacy. ~ karen!
We have a hard frost coming this weekend, so I'll be out picking the last of the tomatoes and tomatillos and cleaning up the garden. Finally got a decent amount of cucumbers this year and loved your Fire & Ice pickles! Thanks for sharing your knowledge in such a fun way.
That's great Judi! I read in a book the other night about someone eating overnight dills and now I want to try those. Up to the garden today to dig out the rest of the potatoes and plant the garlic. :) ~ karen!
Thanks for all the helpful and entertaining advice! Any tips on cleaning up the garden in the fall after battling, and mostly being defeated by, powdery mildew? I know to trash every speck of plant debris, but should I also get rid of the mulch that was surrounding the infected plants? Anything I can do to the soil to hopefully ward it off next summer? Thanks!
I saw your note about Brussels sprouts getting sweeter. Have you become a Brussels sprouts convert? Do I have to hate them alone—well, with all the millions of others who hate them..,
NOPE. I am not a convert. Although I still say this recipe is good because you only taste grease and delicious sauce. ~ karen!