I have spent a good chunk of my spare time buttoning the garden up for impending winter weather and thought I’d share an overview of my fall gardening chores. My circumstances allow for a very simple autumn wrap-up but I do still put extra effort into prepping my soil for the next season and setting my fall/overwintered plants up for success. This is what I have been up to…
My plot at the local community garden had to be vacated by Halloween so I made a point of harvesting any remaining crops and relocating cool weather veggies that had not yet matured. I ended up with a big basket of peppers, the last of my zucchini and corn and I carefully moved my not-quite-ready beets to the raised bed in our back yard. After the goods were collected, it was time to say goodbye to my plants. All of them were pulled and moved to the communal compost heap.
Raised Bed & Half Whiskey Barrel
My backyard garden got a little more attention. We have mild winters so I know that weeds will inevitably grow in plot #55 to serve as an au naturel cover crop. The same cannot be said for my raised bed and whiskey barrel at home. I therefore took the liberty of sprucing them up a bit with blood meal (nitrogen), bone meal (phosphorous) and compost. These slow release supplements will serve both as nutrients for my overwintering garlic and as a base upon which I can build in the spring to prepare my beds for the next season’s plantings. The goal is to keep my soil from being depleted of nutrients at any point throughout the year.
After my supplements had a couple days to disperse into the soil, I planted Organic Silver White garlic from Territorial Seed Co. for overwintering. Garlic requires an extended period of cool weather and is therefore planted in fall here in the Mid-Atlantic. I am expecting mine to be ready for harvest around July 4th. I will make a point of adding compost again in early spring to ensure they get a good boost for the production of big, flavorful bulbs.
Planters & Containers
Some of my flowers and herbs are kept year round while others are planted fresh from seed each spring. All the annuals (planted each spring) were disposed of in compostable yard waste bags and the perennial herbs, that are brought inside to overwinter in the comfort of our spare bedroom, were transplanted into bigger pots to allow for continuous growth. I had even propagated a second rosemary clipping and she, Rosette, and her parent plant, Rose, both got container upgrades. When overnight temperatures fall below freezing they will be moved inside to ride out the winter months.
All of my trellising and cages were taken down and stored in a dry space (our shed) to avoid rust and/or rot while not in use. Empty terracotta pots were rinsed and stored, as well as my wooden stakes. Note: This was my first year using square tomato cages, rather than the flimsy round ones, and I will never go back. The square cages are exponentially more stable AND they fold flat for easy storage. Do yourself a favor and invest in square cages. There are multiple sizes available here: https://www.burpee.com/gardening-supplies/cages-and-supports/pro-series-cage—green-prod002383.html
If I had a bigger yard…
– I would plant a cover crop in any tilled plots to work extra nutrients into the soil when I turn it over in the spring.
– I would compost my own yard waste.
– I would have chickens. Chicken manure and egg shells both offer nutrients for the garden.
– I would use fallen leaves for compost and/or insulating overwintering vegetables.
– I would feed more birds.
This time of year is quiet in the garden, but seed saving/swapping and preparations for next season are great ways to stay busy until it’s time to start seedlings inside. I hope 2019 was a successful year of growth for each of you. If you have any questions or any topics you’d like to see covered in 2020 feel free to reach out via my contact page, or you can leave a comment below. Cheers, friends!