The autumn months in the garden are almost as busy as early spring.  Although the mornings are cool, the afternoons are often quite warm at this time of year, and with the approaching rainy season, this is a perfect time to be planting in the garden.

Our climate is mild enough that fall is an excellent time to be planting in the garden!

Ideally, most California native plant species are planted in the fall.  Although I’ve picked up a few plants here and there at recent plant sales, I’m actually a little behind on planting the native gardens, but there’s still time.

A recent addition to the native garden, Menzies' Goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii)

With three inches of rain in early October, some of the native plant species already in the gardens are going through a second flush of blooms.  The Encelia is really starting to put on a show on the slope above the orchard.

Encelia californica 'El Dorado' is blooming for the second time this year

Even the native poppies are squeaking out a few fall blooms.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

There’s no question though that the star of the fall native garden is still the Epilobium, which is showing few signs of slowing down.

California Fuchsia (Epilobium Canum)

A few non-native blooms are still hanging on too. The Rudbeckias we planted in the repurposed wine barrels are still going strong…

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prarie Sun'

…and the Salvia ‘Mystic Spires’ has filled in tremendously, and is enticing our honey bees to stop and pay a daily visit.

Salvia 'Mystic Spires'

Even the Lavender ‘Provence’ is still producing a few flowers.

Lavender 'Provence'

Most of the excitement in the garden at the moment though is in the kitchen garden.

Radish 'French Breakfast'

Some of the ‘French Breakfast’ radishes planted in September were harvested this weekend, and promptly poached in butter.

Poached, these radishes are milder, and sweeter in flavor, than when eaten raw

The leaves of the ‘Bulls Blood’ beets are turning a vibrant burgundy red.

Beet 'Bulls Blood'

We appear to be in the midst of a near endless supply of beans, including these Roc d’Or, Maxibel, and Purple Queen.

Bush beans Roc d'Or (yellow), Maxibel (green), and Purple Queen

The Mizuna greens are taking over the garden beds…

Mizuna

…as well as the ‘Mei Qing’ choi…

Mei Qing Choi

…and chard.

Chard 'Fordhook Giant'...and friend...

Hoards of beneficial insects can be found frequenting the blooms from the late summer crops that have now bolted in the garden.  There’s a little Arugula in flower at the moment in one bed that’s waiting to be turned over.

Arugula in bloom

Although the Syrphid Flies seem to really prefer the Tatsoi blooms…

Tatsoi in bloom, with Syrphid Fly

…as do the tiny Carpenter Bees.

Tatsoi flower with Carpenter Bee (Ceratina sp.)

Although gardening with chickens can be challenging, yesterday the girls helped as the beds of tomatoes and peppers were finally cleared out to make way for some winter greens.

The tilling crew inspects a prepared garden bed

The beds were amended with compost, and the irrigation lines were repositioned, with a little help.

The girls take a coffee break...

Once the beds were prepared, they were inspected, and given final approval, before the transplants of assorted greens were brought out to be planted for the winter garden.

I spent the rest of the afternoon planting Red Russian and Redbor Kale.  Along with Broccoli ‘di Cecco’, and ‘Calabrese’.

Broccoli 'Calabrese' with a young cabbage worm

Unfortunately, someone else has been nibbling on the broccoli seedlings, but the girls obliged by helping with a little organic ‘pest control’.

These transplants are now housed under floating row covers, but will need to be checked daily for additional caterpillars over the next few days, or the entire crop will look like this.

A devoured broccoli 'Calabrese' leaf

For some reason they seem to prefer the broccoli over the romanesco, or the cabbages.

Also planted in the greens beds, some beautiful Radicchio…

Radicchio, just starting to show some color

along with some Romaine lettuces, and Frisee.

Frisee is a fun and frilly addition to salads

New in the garden this fall is a beautiful red Komatsuna.  We’ve had some wonderful experiences growing a variety of Asian greens over the summer months, and are excited to see how the Komatsuna does in the garden.

Red Komatsuna will add a vibrant splash of color to our fall salads

In the herb beds, the lemon Thyme is still going strong.  This area at the edge of the garden that we planted in May, to hide the edger board, has filled in tremendously well, and provided a constant source of nectar for the bees throughout the summer months.

As we hoped, the tiny thyme transplants filled in, to conceal the edger board at the top of the slope

The fennel that we allowed to bloom, is mostly done setting seed, although harvesting the seed through the spider webs may prove somewhat challenging.

Spent Fennel flower heads

For some reason, we have a LOT of large spiders in the garden at the moment.

The garden sage is really coming back to life with the cooler weather, and we can’t wait to pair that with our winter squash.

Garden sage (Salvia officinalis) is a mainstay of the fall and winter herb garden

Speaking of squash, we’re still getting an absurd amount of summer squash fruit set, especially from ‘Early Prolific Straight’.  Perhaps we should rename it ‘Late Prolific Straight’?

Early Prolific is still living up to its name, and setting a ridiculous amount of fruit for late October

This plant was also responsible for this strange ‘twin’ squash that we discovered in the garden this weekend.  Attached to a single stem, this was clearly the product of paired squash blossoms.  These squash have grown together, and are connected along almost their entire length.

We've had twin tomatoes, or beans...but never squash!

Our prized Boston Marrow set more fruit after the main harvest was in, and as we haven’t yet pulled all the plants in the squash patch, a few more have ripened.

Boston Marrow continues to set fruit, and some are still ripening

The very late ‘Greek Sweet Red’ that was just setting fruit when we harvested the rest of the winter squash is actually turning color, so if the bad weather holds off for just a little longer, we may manage to harvest it after all.

We're hopeful that the late-setting 'Greek Sweet Red' will ripen before the weather turns

The fruits are almost three times the size of our Waltham Butternut, and similar in shape.

While I was inspecting the squash patch, look who I found lurking among the squash blossoms again…

Katy did it again...caught devouring the petals of a Boston Marrow bloom

With the winter greens transplanted, the girls will be in charge of keeping an eye on some of them.  I almost feel a little mean having planted these ones so close to their ark.  I know they’d be willing to taste test them for us!

A hen's eye view of one of the beds of greens

In the meantime, it’s time for me to head back out to the garden.  It’s time to plant garlic, and I have some more native plants to transplant too, but more on those later.

Empty garden beds, don't stay empty for long!

I’m not sure where October went.  How can Hallowe’en be just around the corner?