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Garden Update: Fall, in Progress

Cooking Light's summer garden has grown its last pepper, and our farmers, Mary Beth and David, are busy planting and awaiting our fall crop of leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, and more. You'll see the tasty results of their green thumbs throughout 2013 issues of the magazine. Here, an update from Mary Beth on the progress of our garden:

We have rows of baby radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips growing rapidly. The radishes are large seeds and easy to sow appropriately spaced. The quick ones, Pink Beauty and Purple Plum, should be ready to eat in 2 to 3 weeks. The other radish varieties mature in 60+ days. The carrots, turnips, and beets need thinning, as the seeds are so small (carrots, turnips) or hold 5-8 seeds within (beets) that they require tiny, tedious pinching or tweezing out after the fact. It seems heartbreaking to pull out or cut off these little guys, but if I don't, we won't have a decent carrot form, and it'll be a twist of gnarly roots.

We have a lot of other seedlings that need thinning out. They are normally welcomed and encouraged in our beds -- tiny tomatoes! Check out the photo with the tomato seedling popping up in the radish row. We've had hundreds appear in a few spots where tomatoes had fallen and decomposed in the soil. HUNDREDS. I'm not calling them weeds yet, but...

Purple Brussels sprouts? You bet! We added a variety named 'Red Ball' to the list for intriguing color. The colors of our fall gardens are really spectacular. It's a bonus to garden in cooler weather, but the blues, purples, neon greens, burgandy reds and blue-green shades may push it over summer as my favorite time to grow.

Much later in late October or mid November, we'll have rows of cabbage heads, spiraling stalks of leaves, and hopefully more to enjoy.

This week we've been battling frustrating pests. The photo below shows the damage that slugs can do. We've had to replant a handful of cauliflower, Brussels, and broccoli that was beheaded by the slimy beasts. That will set us back on those a couple of weeks, as plants are slower to grow in the shorter daylight times and rotation of sun. Yesterday we applied Sluggo, an organic-approved (OMRI) slug killer. (I'm too stingy to share my beer with them, which does indeed kill the fat, greedy things when they slime into a saucer of beer by the dark of the moon... Deserving of a Halloween topic.) We're also heading to the store for more Bt, known as Bacillus thuringiensis, to rid our garden of tiny caterpillars that would much rather eat our teeny seedlings now than see them in the pages of a drool-inciting photograph. No worries; the Bt application is also organic and very specific to killing these cabbage-feedling caterpillars. One I found on a leaf was skinnier than a pencil point and about as long as a capital T in this blog update. But you can see the damage they do...