It is disappointing, I know, to accept that Summer is coming to an end. Yet another gardening year is fading out with the Summer sunset. But, let us not despair for upon us is Fall! And a great season of garden prepping and tips to make the Winter easier to dwell in and the coming Spring a breeze when it arrives. So here are my favorite 10 Gardening Tips for Fall.
Tip # 1
“With Summer winding down here in zone 6, the soil is feeling tired from all the abundance this Summer. So for a quick pick me up and potential Fall sowing, add some compost or aged manure to the gardens or beds. Turn in to about 4 -6 inches deep. Add a drink of 2 oz fish and seaweed emulsion mixed in one gallon of water and sow or plant your Fall veggies. The plants will love you for it and so will your earth worms who will enjoy the new compost.”
Tip # 2
“Have you ever tried Winter sowing? Winter sowing doesn’t work for all crops but it is wonderful for veggies that like a cold period before germinating. Cabbage, broccoli, beets, chard, kale, radishes and my favorite spinach are a few. Sow seeds late Fall to early Winter. Add a layer of mulch such as Fall leaves, straw or aged manure. As soon as things start thawing and warming you’ll have early veggies.
Tip # 3
Amend your soil now for Spring planting. Quick and easy amending. Simply add a 2-4 inch layer of aged manure and as the Winter freezing and thawing take place the manure gets worked into the soil, ready to go in the Spring.
Tip # 4
Though sipping hot chocolate curled up by the fire with the new Botanical Interests catalog is my favorite January past time, I also make my cages and trellises during the down time of Winter. Using rolled wire fencing, I cut pieces to the desired size of my cages for tomatoes, pepper and eggplant plants and bend the cut end of the wire over the other side, making home-made cages.
Tip # 5
Fall & Winter are when I clean and sterilize my seed trays and pots that I used in Spring. My organic method to kill any bacteria or diseases that may spread to next years seedlings is to spray the trays with straight white vinegar, then rinse thoroughly. The run off from vinegar wash will not hurt nearby animals, pets or plants.
Tip # 6
Storing leftover or saved seeds from this years gardening is not only preserving the heritage varieties it is economical, since most seeds have a 2-5 year shelf life. Making sure seeds are completely dry, store in clean, dry air tight glass jars. Label and date clearly and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Next Spring you will have extra seeds to sow or share with a new gardener.
And for us chicken parents………
Tip # 7
For chicken owners Winter brings less free ranging and less green feed for our flocks.If you garden in raised beds, make a hoop house over one of your beds out of 1/4 inch flexible PVC, covered in 6 mil clear plastic. Grow all types of greens to feed your chickens. Spinach, kale, collards and micro greens do great in a hot house setting.
Tip # 8
Grow lots sprouts and grasses in window boxes or pots on a sunny sill or porch. Add the sprouts to your flocks feed or fill a suet holder with grasses and sprouts and hang it up in the coop for some healthy treats and pecking fun.
Tip # 9
Fall cabbage can be harvested right before the first frost and stored in a root cellar to feed your chickens during the Winter. If you don’t have a root cellar, leave the cabbage heads in the garden and cover with 6 inches of mulch such as Fall leaves or straw and pick one during the deep cold days of Winter to treat your flock to a healthy fun treat. My hens love to peck at a hanging cabbage head, playing catch the cabbage.
Tip # 10
Light a fire in the fireplace or woodstove and curl up with a mug of your favorite hot cocoa. Reflect on all your hard work, bountiful harvests and dedication to living a more self sustained lifestyle. Know that you are prepared for the coming Winter months with your own home grown food in the freezer and your canned foods in the pantry. Ahhhh, relax and rest and rejoice…it’s only a couple more months before the NEW SEED CATALOGS ARRIVE, YAY!!!!