By Alexandra Fitzgerald
The Times 

Fall Garden Musings


October 7, 2021

Brad Trumbo

The lone robin caught in a garden photograph, with a nearly ripe blueberry in its beak.

We've been lucky so far and have dodged any potential early frosts. On the first of September, it got down to 34 degrees at our house. Yes, you read that right. We managed to squeak by and have since had only one other night in the thirties.

I've been dutifully harvesting the tomatoes that have all finally started to ripen. Better late than never! Since mostly giving up on the garden for the year (I know, shame on me), I'm not super worried about prolonging the season. I'll glean the tomatoes, stash a few to ripen slowly, and collect my bounty of spaghetti squash from the vining jungle in the back of the garden.

I believe I have a few pumpkins lurking in there as well. I'll leave the leeks and carrots for a while as they're frost tolerant. The kale can also wait as it only gets sweeter after a few frosts which will also knock the aphids back. My only other "must do" task for fall is to get at least one bed, maybe two prepped and ready to plant garlic.

I save some garlic each year for replanting, so there is no need to buy more unless I'm looking for a new variety. My favorite place to get garlic is through mail order from Filaree Garlic Farm based in Omak, Wash. They offer other crops worth checking out, including shallots (also planted in the fall), asparagus, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. If you want to get very local garlic, I highly recommend buying it from Blue Mountain Station. They carry garlic grown by Mark and Eleanora Montgomery, owners of Whetstone Honey. Their garlic is delicious and easy to plant should you want to try your hand at growing your own.

Filaree Farm ( has growing guides to set you on the path to success. And I promise garlic is straightforward. Despite all my garden failures, I've never NOT had a garlic crop. Here's hoping I didn't jinx myself for next year.

I mentioned in my last article how the birds loved the garden this year. It's been a bit of an oasis, and I've enjoyed watching the fledglings grow up and become adults. I did suspect there was some pilfering from my berry crop, but I wasn't too fussed given there wasn't much fruit to start with. I was curious about my one blueberry plant, which set a fair number of berries. However, I never saw any fruit fully ripen as the berries thinned and disappeared. The other week, Brad and I were looking through some photos he had taken in the garden. And wouldn't you know it, but there was empirical proof of what happened-a lone, nearly ripe blueberry in the beak of a robin. Mystery solved. At least the berries went to good use.

The past week we've had a few exciting visits to the garden. A local coyote has been frequenting the area, much to our youngest bird dog's chagrin. She just about scared the pants off me by barking her head off the first time she noticed the coyote cruising up the road. No harm done. A few nights later, he was singing us a song before bed. A day after that, he accidentally stumbled his way into my flock of chickens. I say accidentally because he was just as surprised as they were alarmed. This set the dog off, which prompted me to run out of the house, hollering for the coyote to get a move on. So far, we haven't seen him again. The chickens have been under a precautionary lockdown (welcome to the club, chickens), and all free-ranging activities have halted. They aren't pleased about this turn of events, but I assume they would prefer it to becoming someone's dinner.


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