Fall Gardening

Here in my neck of the woods, the summer garden has officially bit the dust.   Many gardeners find the transition to colder temps means that their harvesting from the garden stops.  I’ve touched on season extension before.   Now’s the time to implement! Get those covers, cold frames, and mulches in place.With the hard winters we have here and the constant wind, I find that the whole garden does better if I protect the soil with some mulch cover.   Anything over wintering gets at least 6 inches of the good stuff.  Soil temperatures were good for garlic planting this week, so I got my hard neck garlic in the ground and thickly covered.  The turnips are nestled in a bed of leaves with their tops poking out, and some row cover ready to pull over to protect those.

As you’re pulling the old summer garden stuff out, remember to grab the seeds to save for next year.  Beans are easy, their pods usually dry brown and stiff, I pull the whole pod off, then shell them at my leisure during winter.  Lettuce and other greens, they make a nice thick stalk with the puff ball on top, I just snap the stalk and put it puff ball down in a paper bag. Again winter’s forced idleness is a good time to clean them, which is as easy as rubbing the puff balls between your fingers.  Cucumbers, if you have a cuc that got over looked and made it to yellow and fully ripened, grab it and put the seeds into a jar with some warm water and rot them a bit like you do for tomato seeds.  (Video of that process if you’re confused about what I’m talking about.)

Now’s a great time to easily expand your gardening space, using the lasagna method of mulching.   Lay down a thick layer of newspaper over the area you’d like to garden next year. Put down a thick layer of leaves over that.   The rain of fall and winter will start some wonderful decomposition.  Worms and bugs will start their work too. This will continue in the early spring and by the time you’re out in the garden working the soil, you’ll have a great start to the new bed.

Now’s a good time to start rounding up those containers that will be coming inside for winter. With or without plants in them. They’ll last longer if you get them out of winter’s harsh elements.  No sense in leaving them in their decorative spot on the other side of the yard, bring them in close to the house where you can run out in your slippers and grab them when you realize at the last minute that frost is creeping in.  What’s that you say? Pay attention to the weather and bring them in before you get ready for bed? Yea, that sounds boring, but you could do it that way too. :-D

We’ve been pickling and canning like crazy to use up the piles of zucchini and tomatoes. (I need the room for the pumpkins and winter squash coming in.) We make a really tasty relish out of zucchini when we get tired of eating it fresh. Onion, pepper, tangy vinegar and some sugar…. Mmmm  nothing bad there.  Tomatoes usually get roasted with garlic and herbs and onions then canned as pasta sauce. Apples I store fresh down in the basement.  I dry some, but then I have to hide them, otherwise the boys eat them like candy. :-) Most of my drying right now is the swiss chard that’s still going like crazy. I’ve got a bunch of cold tolerant herbs that could do with a trimming before winter, sage and chives mostly.  If you live near rosebushes, rose hips are ripening now.

I know, “Where’s the part where we shoot something? I don’t care about roses Calamity! The world is probably ending on Friday!”  How about youth hunting seasons opening up right about now.  If you know a teenager who could use some outdoor time, youth hunting seasons are a great reason to spend some quality time together.  I’ll be out this weekend with a great group of kids, wave if you see us. :-)

– Calamity Jane