Beet seedlings and seeds at the bottom end, then tatsoi, chard, and lacinata kale seedlings. The bed is covered with fruit-tree netting and staked every 3 feet to keep out skunks and other diggers (they don't like to get their claws caught in the netting; it works well to also keep cats out). The seedlings will mature and be eaten first, when the seeds germinate they'll be transplanted to elsewhere in the garden. Asparagus ferns are allowed to develop until they die back of their own accord - all that energy goes back into the roots for later harvests.
Lacilata kale was munched when left in its 6-pack overnight. As long as the nodes and perhaps one leaf still remain, the plant is worth transplanting - and protected with netting from further marauding munchers.
Texas Everbearing Fig fruits are large, very sweet and fully-flavored. Great timing, a month later than other figs -- we'll see whether this is just because this is its first year bearing.
California fuchsia's gray-green foliage is nicely set off by its red-orange blooms.
Tips of boysenberry vines are anchored in the soil to sprout roots that I can transplant in the early spring.
Oro Gold grapefruits. The burned edges of the leaves are from sunburn during those too-hot days when I should have watered beforehand to keep the foliage fully hydrated to better withstand damage.
Spider lily. Years ago, I purchased one bulb that I felt was too expensive, but last year I transplanted 10 of it offshoots. Ultimately, it was an economical purchase - at least that's my excuse for repeating the process!
Amarcrinum from a friend is a brighter pink that my original ones.
Rose hips make wonderfully bright holiday decorations.
Eucomis that blooms well here, although it's only 1 foot tall.
Are you still debating whether to pull those still-bearing tomato plants? This continuing warm daytime weather is keeping lots of plants actively green and growing, still looking attractive and bearing fruit and flowers – although not as plentifully – in the garden. The debate is always whether to pull up those still-performing plants in favor of shifting to cool-weather edibles and ornamentals. You have a couple of options, depending on your garden space and eating and viewing preferences.
Keeping plants bearing through the winter If your garden doesn’t get frost, potentially you can have some of those tomatoes and perhaps squash and cucumbers and beans bearing fruits through till spring and beyond. Although the amount you’ll get will be pretty sparse, and the flavor will be hardly better than what you’d purchase in the market, just the idea of continuing to have your own home-grown summer produce continuing through winter is comforting to any gardener but especially beginning gardeners – a real feeling of success in overcoming the seasons! If this is your goal, leave the plants in place, trim off any dead growth, trim down tomatoes to the new shoots, and continue feeding and watering so the plants will continue bearing flowers and fruit.
Moving on to winter-season plants If your garden has more space or you’d prefer moving on completely to growing and enjoying edible plants that truly thrive in cool weather -- like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, onions, radishes, spinach, turnips – and ornamentals – like calendula, chrysanthemum, coreopsis, hollyhocks, larkspur, poppies, snapdragons, sweet peas and wildflowers – then see my October and November monthly tips columns -- http://www.gardeninginla.net/monthly-tips.html -- for the many choices you have, and visit your local nursery for the beauties that are available. If you’ll make this shift, pull the worn-out plants, amend the soil with compost and manure (and coffee grounds if you have them), and plant new seedlings and seeds.
I much prefer to grow plants in their preferred seasons when they're thriving, instead of trying to nurture along plants that won't do as well because they’re struggling to survive in an uninviting environment. But, it's always fun, if you have the garden space, to "play" with some plants that you're interested in just seeing what will happen. This is how you learn about the microclimates in your own garden, and what you can do when to extend the seasons. For example, when I first began gardening, I grew corn and melons and winter squash just to see how they grew and produced, but didn't bother after that since I could buy much-better-tasting ones at farmers' markets and didn't have to "waste" my own garden space growing some things that didn't really do well. Then, I'd had the experience of knowing something about those crops, and I could concentrate on growing the ones that we enjoyed most and produced the most for the amount of effort I devoted in my garden.
Plant Bulbs This is definitely the time to plant all those winter- and spring- and summer-blooming bulbs you can get your hands on. Bulbs guarantee attractive foliage and blooms in the garden, always a delight whenever they decide to appear, and many continuing to multiply through the years. They’re perfect for beginning gardeners since they come with their own food supply for at least that first year, and after their first watering-in will withstand neglect and drought and still bloom their hearts out. Even the ones that are more expensive than you want to spend will thrive and reproduce mightily through the years -- even so much that you'll be spreading them around your own garden and sharing them with all of your gardening friends!