Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gathering Seeds and Pulling Exhausted Plants

It is for me, a melancholy time of year. The harvest has run it's course, and though many flowers are still in bloom, they are one good frost from turning to black mush. I leave the flowers in bloom alone as they help nourish my allies, the pollinating insects with the vital nectar to survive the harsh winter that is rapidly coming. The hummers are long gone, though I still have red flowered salvias designed for them still in bloom. Salvia lemmonii and darcyi are mojave and sonoran desert plants, and will die back to the ground, but will generally return each year from their root crown.

Now is the time to gather seeds. Most penstemon seeds are fully ripe and I'll fill my old prescription bottles with seeds for next year's plantings. Who knows, there may be an interesting hybrid in the works, as penstemons are known to cross-pollinate at times and produce interesting intermediates. Same for the agastaches.

Now is the time I pull up my squash plants. By the end of the year, they generally have some powdery mildew on the leaves, and I need to discard them and make sure I plant squash in a different location next year. There's always a smattering of small squashes that just didn't make it, but I have enough hubbards, sweetmeats and butternuts to keep me eating squash till atleast January.

My tomatoes are still producing, though the flavor tends to wane this time of year as fewer hours of sunlight means less sugar in the fruit. The first frost will doom them. Same for the peppers.

Soon, all I'll have of this year's garden are pictures and whatever food I have stored for future use. The other thing I'll hold on to is hopes for the future. That next year's garden will be more productive, and next year's flowers more spectacular than this year.