Colder weather and less sunlight bring a halt to growing plants. I can extend my harvest a bit with cold frames, but once the warm weather migrates south most of my garden gets tucked in for winter. One last gasp of activity and I’ll finally have time to clean the house. In the meantime, I’m writing out my “to do” list so I can feel the satisfaction as I scratch off each completed task.
It will be time to pull off my hoses on a dry day, drain them and carefully roll them up so they don’t kink, then store them protected from the elements, but not in plastic bags because they might get moldy. Once the hoses are off the garden, finish weeding the beds, dig under the summer cover crop of buckwheat and sow fall and winter cover crops.
Get out the cold frame and situate it in the garden with the short side facing south so the soil can warm up. Since slugs and sow bugs ravaged anything sown directly in the soil under the cold frame in previous years, I am growing seedlings in flats; when they look robust enough I’ll transplant them in the frame and hope they can outgrow predation long enough to get a harvest. I’ll sow lettuce, spinach, mache/corn salad, rocket/arugula and maybe some cress for winter salads and I think I’ll keep growing them in flats during the winter to replenish the ones I harvest.
Once all the weeding is done it will be time to get that compost heap finished so it can sit through this winter, next summer and the following winter before I use it. By then most of the vegetation will have broken down without my having to lift a finger. I’ll toss the larger uncomposted pieces back into the next heap but will still have smaller pieces left that I’ll strew on the garden with the crumbly compost.
Now that wintering crops like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbages and leeks are about a foot high, I’ll side dress them with Solomon’s fertilizer mix, sprinkling an inch wide band of this mix a quarter of an inch deep along both sides of each row and gently hoe it in. Soil organisms will do the rest. These brassica transplants I recently bought were a godsend a few weeks ago because I was so busy moving house that I didn’t have time to start them inside. Every one is thriving and I anticipate a good harvest.
I did sow some seeds in the garden a few weeks ago in case our fall was a long one, so I have leeks, carrots, beans, onions and Brussels sprouts a few inches high. If we run out of warm weather, all it cost me were the seeds and my time. I’ll side dress these plants as well and see how they respond.