Autumn Garden Blazes

Autumn in my edible garden is a growing and even blooming season. With a backdrop of blazing fall tree color, cool season vegetables inch upwards like a roomful of nieces and nephews whose growth is notable at a holiday dinner visit.

If family visits our place for a winter feast, some of it will come from the leafy greens and brassicas that flourish in our mild fall maritime weather.

Here are scenes from my autumn garden, with a list of seed sources for these varieties at the end. Happy fall!

Fall peas

The fall crop of Sugar Snap peas is just starting to size up, their white flowers in contrast to the brilliant fall color of the Crape Myrtle tree.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Two Purple Sprouting broccoli plants are set along the edge of a bed, with a cherry tomato plant still trying to produce behind them.

Groninger Brussels sprouts

These Groninger Brussels Sprouts are sizing up nicely. A few more are sprinkled around the garden because, ooh la la, you can’t have too many of these mini winter cabbages!

Kale plus

Russian Red Kale will be very accessible from the front of this raised bed.

Filderkraut cabbage

This Filderkraut cabbage, planted in March, has lots of loose leaves around a surprisingly shaped head.

Cabbage 2

Once the outer leaves are stripped away, the cabbage is much smaller.

Cabbage 3

Connie shows off the gnome’s hat shape of the Filderkraut cabbage. Delightful to look at — and makes a great cole slaw!

Sunday harvest

Red Kuri squash, Jack Be Little Pumpkins, tomatillos and even a few ripening tomatoes in the harvesting hod.

Green Tomatoes

Jaune Flamme produced a crop of tomatoes that are still slowly ripening – maybe one per week. At this rate, a green tomato pie is in our near future.

Mr. Lincoln tomato

Mr. Lincoln was tall and slender, both the president and this plant. One more tomato turning, but still a few that will probably not make it. To honor one of our greatest presidents, we will have fried green tomatoes.

Castelfranco radicchio

Perhaps the most beautiful salad green in the garden, this Castelfranco radicchio is providing tender inner leaves on plants that hung tough during a hot summer. Some went to seed, and the pale blue flowers are floating nearby. Note the leaves of forgotten parsnips that are poking up around this crop.

Castelfranco radicchio

The beautiful flower and intricate seed head of Castelfranco radicchio.


Peppermint and Rhubarb chard keep on giving, and a row of Early Wonder Tall Top beets size up behind. The chard was planted in March and have provided many cuttings. Clearly there are more to come!

Chard in and out of cloche

Some overwintering chard will be covered by this plastic cloche, and we’ll see if it makes a difference in health compared to the rest of the chard behind it.


Tomatillos ripen in front of a raised bed cold frame which holds tiny starts of winter “cut-and-come-again” salad greens.

Little Gem lettuce

Little Gem romaine lettuce is growing nicely under a plastic tunnel cloche with zippered windows. But what is the prolific brassica that has sprouted in its bed?


Abundant Bloomsdale spinach is protected under the Triangle Tunnel.


A pot of fall asters brightens the walkway near my vegetable bed and provides pollinator delight.


Seed sources:

Groninger Brussels Sprouts

Fliderkraut Cabbage

Sugar Snap Peas

Red Kuri Squash

Jack Be Little Pumpkins

Little Gem Lettuce

Abundant Bloomsdale Spinach

Castelfranco Radicchio

Peppermint Chard

Early Wonder Tall Top Beets

Urban Farmers Barter and Party This Sunday

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Homemade and Homegrown Food. It will be at the Phinney Neighborhood Center on Sunday, Oct. 27, from 5 to 9 p.m.

I’ll be giving a talk on seed-saving and planting your final fall edibles, 7-7:30 p.m.

Check out this poster to see all the great stuff being planned:

UFF-2013-flyer10 3



Giving Thanks for the Garden

For the tender spears of leaf lettuce,

Leaf Lettuce








crispy, flat pods

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of the fall peas,

Fall Peas








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Russian Red Kale








sturdy, spicy mustards,









abundant bunches of flat-leaf parsley,









cheery calendula, still hanging on,









and the licorice-sweet, graceful anise hyssop;

Anise Hyssop








for these, and all the abundance that springs from my soil, I will offer thanks to the garden at my table.



Sweet tree fruit – classes in drying, pruning this weekend

There’s still time to do a little summer pruning on your fruit trees. It is helpful, because when the leaves are out and the fruit is weighing down the branches, it’s much easier to see where the tree has gotten too dense or unsustainable.

Italian Prune

Summer pruning on the plum tree allows more light to get to the fruit to help it ripen.

And it’s about time to get out the fruit dryer, because our plums and apples and pears are abundant this year.


The pears are harvested off our “fruit cocktail” tree that has multiple varieties. From left, Red Bartlett, Comice and Bartlett.

This weekend, one of my favorite Seattle nurseries, City People’s Garden Store, is hosting two useful classes on fruit. Fruit Drying Basics is Saturday, 10-11, and Fruit Tree Pruning is Sunday, 11-noon. They’re free, but you need to pre-register with the store.

The classes are offered in conjunction with City Fruit. If you have a fruit tree but don’t think you’ll get around to harvesting when the time is right, or aren’t able to use all the fruit, check out City Fruit to see if they can help. They will get the fruit to those who need it.

I use the nylon “footies” on my apples to ward off the apple maggot and codling

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moth, which are serious pests in Seattle’s urban orchards. This is an organic technique that I’ve found to be 100% effective. You slip the stockings on the fruit when it’s about 1 inch in diameter, and it will stretch as the fruit grows. Now I’ll pull them off for the

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last few weeks to let these Liberty apples finish ripening.

Liberty Apples








I’m experimenting with espalier, the technique of training a fruit tree into a shape. This Akane apple is getting a simple horizontal T shape (see the bamboo for the lower tier), but there are many delightful patterns to choose from.

Akane Apples