We had our first hard frost last night. When I came downstairs this morning, and checked the thermometer on the barn, it read 35˚F, brrr. The leaves were coated with rime, and on the squash, already beginning to droop. I hope we can still harvest the 2-3 remaining baby squashes for dinner tonight.
We brought in some of our planters last night, the rosemary topiaries, the hens and chicks, the parsley, and covered the scented geraniums with old tablecloths. Over the weekend, we'll have to cut them back and prepare them to come inside for the winter.
The temperature in the kitchen this morning was a nippy 57˚F, so I turned the furnace on for the first time this fall. We don't have the storm windows on yet, so we'll need to take care of that little chore as well this weekend.
We still have leeks and cauliflower in the garden, and sproutless Brussels sprout plants which I suspect won't be providing sprouts this year. The leeks and cauliflower will last a bit longer -- we'll eat the cauliflower, and store the leeks for use through the early fall.
The rest of the garden we let go -- there were a few small yellow pear tomatoes remaining on the vine, which we left to the chickens. Iris cleverly developed a method for harvesting the tomatoes beyond her reach. Climbing onto a stack of three bricks left next to the raised bed, she leaped straight up into the air and pecked at the tomatoes until they fell from the vine. She unwillingly shared a few with her sisters, but she certainly enjoyed plenty herself.
The girls were rather subdued for a few days after Daisy's death, but seem to be returning to their former high spirits, bolting out of the coop in the morning when I open the door, raucously demanding their customary handful of scratch. They are doing a great job of cleaning up in the garden. Once we pull the remaining dead plants, I am sure they will clean up the remaining bugs, larvae, and I hope, some of the weed seeds quite nicely as well as stirring up the top layer of soil and adding some fertilizer.
I am looking forward to putting the vegetable garden to bed, and starting work on the new garden design. We plan to create raised beds in a U shape, following the perimeter of the garden fence. We'll dig out a path around the beds, adding that soil to the beds to raise them a bit. The center section of the U will be reserved for herbs, and the outside section will hold the remaining vegetables, with the climbing veggies strategically placed next to the fence. We are going to adopt more of a "square foot" bed plan, with intensely planted beds and narrow pathways between them for access. I need to draw up the plan on graph paper to get a to-scale sense of how it will work, but my back of an envelope calculations indicate it will work just fine.