Our garden did well this year. I’m actually quite pleased with the progress we’ve made in just a short amount of time. One of the challenges that I’ve had though over these past few weeks has been the transition from the summer growing season into the fall growing season.
On our urban homestead, I hardly ever had enough produce to preserve (there wasn’t the growing space), and usually by August everything had petered out anyway (my priorities were different).
So come fall, there was really no difficulty in gearing back up again for the cool weather season.
This first year on our rural homestead we have had an abundance of produce to preserve, and since our summer was thankfully very mild, everything has just kept right on going. In the effort to keep up with the tomatoes and zucchini, I’ve found it difficult to get the lettuce, kale, and beet seeds in. Get them in, I did though, and now they are ready to harvest, not to mention there are still a few crops that need to go in. I’m struggling to find my groove here.
Here though are my list of things yet to be done, and if you are in the same boat (and same zone) that I am in, these may help you focus and prioritize.
1. Plant garlic.
I am so excited that this fall we have our own seed garlic saved over from what we planted last year. But please don’t ask me about the variety. After planting three different kinds of hard neck, and painstakingly trying to keep them separated at harvest, I gave up. But we have plenty, both for use in the kitchen and for planting. We’ve also decided to give soft neck a try, as well as elephant garlic, and I’m looking forward to the results. In our area (zone 6b), garlic can go in as late as November.
2. Plant fall annuals.
::snort:: That’s very. very. funny. Seriously. Who has time for that? I still want to try though because I think pansies will be very pretty on both my front and back porch.
3. Make sure you have what you need for extending the season.
You can read more about that here. This year our fall crops will go in eight raised beds that will be covered with a floating row cover. Husbie has been installing 9 gauge galvanized wire to hold the row cover just a few inches over the beds. Last year we used pvc pipe hoops in covered wagon style but found that there was too much cold air between the crops and the cover. Our first hard frost: we lost nearly everything. This year we’re trying a different approach (and suggestions are welcome).
4. Evaluate the past growing season.
5. Evaluate your seed stash and make a list of what you will need for the spring.
When you get ready to do your seed shopping I would highly recommend using Mary’s Heirloom Seeds. We received a sampling last spring of several things including Black Beauty Zucchini, Pink Oxheart Tomatoes, and Danvers Carrots, all of which performed beautifully*. We also received some purple radishes which we enjoyed and allowed some to go to seed. We planted the seeds in our fall garden and are enjoying them again! Mary has taken the Safe Seed Pledge so all of Mary’s Seeds are organic non~hybrid, non~GMO, and open~pollinated varieties. She also offers free shipping on all orders and her prices are reasonble. Please consider her when making your plans for the spring!
Some things that I do not have time for at the moment but could be done now are:
Here in my zone, as long as the ground is not yet frozen you can put in your crocus, Dutch Iris, and daffodil bulbs in now. I would really love to put some blue Dutch Irises in up against our red barn, but I just don’t have the time. Last year I did take the time to plant daffs around our pond and I look forward to enjoying them again in the spring.
Another thing I really don’t have time for at the moment but look forward to doing perhaps next year about this time. Fall is a great time to put in perennials as well as trees and shrubs. The mild weather now, and in the spring gives them time to establish themselves before the brutal heat of the summer.
And over the winter we plan to:
*Clean, repair, and oil our gardening tools
The key word there is “plan”. I have to confess though I have planned this every year and have yet to actually carry it out. It is an important task even though it is difficult to get to.
*Clean and organize the gardening shed, potting bench, or whatever work space you have
Even if you don’t have a fancy shed or bench (and we don’t, just an area in the barn), if you do extensive gardening you have all the tools and supplies necessary. In the winter, it will be too cold to go out and sort through things ~ now is the best time to do it. Make it fun. Set aside a Saturday afternoon, listen to some music, and organize that space so it will be a pleasure to work in next spring.
What about you? What is on your to~do list for the fall?
*We received these products as samples but the thoughts and opinions represented here are all my own.
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You can find this post and others like it linked to: The Homestead Barn Hop, Homemade Mondays, The Backyard Farming Connection Hop, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, The HomeAcre Hop, Tutorials Tips and Tidbits, From the Farm Fridays