The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making

September Observations: Autumn Arrives


We had our first frost Friday morning, September 19. I lugged in all the heavy pots in in a whirl of panic after a day of gardeners work. I’m glad I did even if I did moan and complain the whole time. Normally I wipe down all my pots and inspect the leaves, etc, etc. Not this year – IN they are and the house seems small and I’m sure we have many new spider tenants. The flannel sheets are on the bed. A new stock of garlic has arrived. There are bouquets of broken and discarded plants – Amaranth from the Park where I work.


Sunflowers from a broken stalk adorn the porch, still unfinished but a sliding door and wood stove are on this Fall’s agenda.


Broken Marigolds now in a vase. (That stack of books will be nice by a fire, hopefully?)


Acorns are collecting on the untrimmed windowsill. I like to collect these much like a squirrel and then offer them on some dark Winter day to the birds, or on a sunny Winter day to a stirring fellow kin squirrel.


The vegetable/fruit bowl is full, overflowing. There are bags of produce lying around our counters.


Roasted cherry tomatoes on the stove. Sauce is bubbling on the stove. The kitchen smells so good. And I want pasta, pasta, potatoes, rice, anything gooey and warm and filling.


As I look around today, trying to summon up a last bit of energy to clean up my front gardens, I realize Autumn has arrived. It was stealthy this year sneaking in the back door. It seems too early. Way too early. It’s warmer today but that wind is blowing – THAT wind. Ah, yes, here, as I check my calendars: last year’s first frost kissed us on October 29. We are ahead by 30 days this year! And well, we all remember last year don’t we? As much as we try to forget. Still, I feel unhurried. There’s plenty of time to weed, edge and plant bulbs and garlic … until that next whirl of panic perhaps on the crystals of a flake? The gardens can wait and I can take a nap this afternoon can’t I?


Author: Kathy Sturr

Cultivating art, growing soul, and creating plant-based food in the beautiful 1000 Islands, New York and Cedar Key, Old Florida.

12 thoughts on “September Observations: Autumn Arrives

  1. We just barely dodged the bullet. But October 29th sounds late to me, a lot later than Sept 19th sounds early.

    • Hi Kathy – it was later than usual last year – I wrote we were blessed with sun right until the end! And then … In 2011, 2012 I recorded first frost on October 13. September is early!

    • Hi Kathy, I attended our monthly master gardeners meeting yesterday and we received some data from our extension’s agronomist. He said this is the second earliest frost in the last 25 years. In the past 25 years we have only had four frosts in September. I am in Clayton, NY, West of Rte 81 and according to his data, our average frost is Oct 20-30 (it probably has to do with our closer proximity to the St. Lawrence River). East of Rte. 81 average first frost is Sept 30-Oct 10. Watertown (East) received a freeze (28° F) Sept 19 so I consider myself a bit more fortunate with just a frost!

  2. Your house looks so inviting with all the collections! Frost has not been here , yet…my fingers are crossed. I am slowly clearing the gardens. Have green tomatoes but I am enjoying every day of this warm weather…our frost has not arrived. I found a recipe for garlic scapes so I am going to try that next year. I am eating it on crackers that I purchased from a farm…time to sit by the fire and dream of a “do over”=lol….Oh I have new ideas for my potager for next year!

    • Hi Robbie, I was just telling Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening that this was our second earliest frost in 25 years according to data collected by our extension’s agronomist! Our growing season was, yes past tense, 135 days – talk about short! I am making pesto this weekend – yum! My basil is holding out well – sort of in a pocket with the now insulating Trumpet Vine on the arbor – but the nights are becoming more chilly and you know how sensitive that basil can be! Our sliding glass door for the porch arrives Monday – yay! It is very cozy here in the house and I am already in hibernation (aka eat, sleep, stay in pajamas) mode. I love garlic scapes! They make a wonderful pesto, too. I will probably plant my new garlic bulbs this weekend – and flower bulbs, too. I can’t wait to see your new ideas for next year, Robbie!

      • I am a few weeks behind you but I now the hibernation mode will be coming:-) Just I sure don’t want a repeat of last winter..that was toooooooo long!
        I tried a garlic scape pesto with my son a few summers ago when he was home and he went to play basketball and well you know the rest-lol
        I found a recipe that does not use cheese but citric juice so I am going to try that next year and maybe not try my own pesto I make up-YIKES I don’t want people sweating garlic-lol
        I look forward to your new ideas,too:-)

  3. also…yum…I love homemade pesto it is what gets me through the winter+ I forgot to tell you I love roasted cherry tomatoes inspires me today! Heading out to roast a few-YUM:-)

  4. geez…your roated tomatoes…I’m out of here my eyes are going buggy–need to unplug!

  5. Kathy, I can feel the coziness in your home! I will admit that frost sounds like winter, not autumn to me!

  6. I brought pots in and brought them out again with this warm snap…I am loving it and finally getting to my veg beds…ripping out plants, spreading compost and making plans…the weeds in the garden beds will wait until it is cooler and wetter to pull them…wonderful vases everywhere there and yum there are those cherry tomatoes cooking….

  7. We had our only frost thus far — a very light one — on that morning. I managed to save most things by throwing sheets over them on Thursday evening. I even managed to keep my morning glories going, and they rewarded me with a flower this morning (only the third this season).

Thank you for joining me in the making of my garden!

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