Red Wicket Market Farm is a small farm 25 minutes from downtown Columbus, Ohio, near Slate Run Metropark. Breeding Black Copper and Blue Copper Marans to the Standard of Perfection.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Autumn Garden Chores

Autumn gardening isn't very much fun. I have to pull out all of the plants that are no longer producing and compost them, and it drives me nuts to pull out green, growing plants with fruit on them. Tomatoes bother me the most. The plants still look great, and they're loaded with tomatoes. Unfortunately, there are chemical changes that happen in tomatoes when the temperature drops much below 50 degrees. The flavor turns flat and the fruit becomes mealy. So, no matter what they look like, the tomatoes are done after those first few cold nights. This is a good thing to remember if you buy from farmers' markets--if the nights have been cold, skip the tomatoes. Buy broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage instead! All these plants are related (they're called brassicas) and a little cold only makes them sweeter. Sweet peas also taste better when it's cooler out.

Once I get all the veggie plants into the compost pile, I need to run the tiller quickly to get the garden ready for a winter cover crop. We are trying rye as a cover crop this year. We've decided on rye because it's supposed to be great under vine crops. Supposedly you plant the pumpkins and squashes directly into the rye, and by the time they start the vine the rye will die back and form a mulch.

While the humans don't really enjoy the fall garden chores, the hens LOVE it. They get all kinds of goodies from the garden. They are very fond of the green pumpkins that I know won't have time to ripen, but by far their favorite is the tomatoes. I have some tomatoes in cages, but it's almost impossible to get the tomato plant out of the cage before the plant dies back. I've been pulling up a cage or two a day with the plant still inside it, then tossing the whole thing into the chicken pasture to wilt before I pull it out of the cage. 

Our two new roosters are out of quarantine and have integrated well with the flock. So far, so good. I'll post photos next time!