Robin’s Journal – Finally, The Frost

The end of the outdoor growing season arrived in the form of a heavy frost on October 9. It is the latest first frost date I remember in recent years. Having a garden this year that was much smaller than I’m used to has been a learning experience. I didn’t have the convenience of succession planting if I found myself without enough of something.

Bluejays and grackles have been feasting on the sunflowers. Grackles will migrate soon.

The prolonged rainy season of late spring and early summer delayed planting time for the warm crops. I didn’t get the corn in until the very last minute. An early frost would mean a lot of stalks but no edible corn. I hoped for an extra week or two at the end of the season to give the kernels time to mature. I was still picking delicious sweet corn at the beginning of October. I’ve taken what I need. The bluejays and grackles are eating the Painted Mountain (a colored flour corn) and sweet corn, and hanging from the huge sunflowers.

Steve, my husband, turned under the peas, turnip and other early crops back in August. The very early spring allowed for unusually early cold crop planting. I got tired of picking peas and let them go. The dry peas were planted when he did the tilling. I’ve been picking fresh peas from those plants thanks to frost not killing the blossoms. The turnip and radish seeds that didn’t germinate in the spring did germinate after being disturbed so we’re eating those fresh now. That’s not usual, they do well in cold weather, but the flavor is different. They hadn’t been hit by frost until yesterday and didn’t have the sweeter flavor we’re used to in autumn.

I appreciate the extra time this year, but I realize I’m settled in my ways. I’m more than ready to be done with the garden. I feel like I’m out of sync with the seasons this year. I picked wild mushrooms a few days ago. That’s very late for this part of Maine.

I have the Fedco Tree Catalog already, and am day dreaming about what I’ll plant in the orchard next. I went to a Landscaping for Wildlife workshop given by Lisa Kane of Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife a few weeks ago, and have an idea of what I’ll be planting for the birds. The garden will be approximately one-half acre. I’ll include rugosa roses on an outer edge for rose hips, Ilex for the red berries that are palatable in mid winter and flowers for butterflies. Does anyone have any suggestions on what else to plant? I’m focusing on birds and butterflies. Deer, rabbits and other animals seldom wander in because I have three dogs.