Saturday, October 31, 2015

Late Fall Gardening Goals

I'm always amused at the difference between spring and fall in the garden.

Or at least in my attitude toward the garden.

In the spring I can't wait to get outside and any day that is reasonably nice weather I find some excuse to be outdoors. I count down the days until it is safe to plant the garden and long for fresh picked vegetables.

In the fall, no longer does it seem urgent to enjoy the sunshine. I don't make the most of my garden opportunity; I'm even guilty of letting some of those wonderful veggies go to waste.

I just don't care.

But I have found that if I ignore the garden in the fall,  I pay the price in the spring. It is no fun to find garden hoses and tomato cages still in the garden in March.

 Two weeks ago we had our first frost. And it wasn't a light frost. It was a hard killing frost - the kind that makes the grass crunchy and hangs ice on the clothes line.

I was glad that the week before we had cleaned up most of the garden, pulling out the tomato cages and harvesting the last peppers and eggplant. I had also planted garlic.

Last week the children helped me several afternoons and we cut down all the old perennial plants such as asparagus, red raspberries, and the perennial flower beds.

It felt like a big job, at least for my pregnant body, and I couldn't have done it without the children's help. But now I can say that my outdoor work is completely finished. I have a few cabbage heads in the garden, but now I'm spending my time indoors, enjoying nesting.

As Ed mows the grass this fall (which hasn't been growing fast with the cooler weather and lack of rain) he chops up the fallen leaves and spreads this mixture of leaves and grass on all the perennial beds.

In some of the beds, such as this very weedy asparagus patch, we put down cardboard beside (not over) the asparagus crowns.

This mulch will be a huge time saver next spring and hopefully curtail some of our weed problems.

I have a few greens (lettuce, spinach, and kale) growing in the cold frame by the basement. I wish this was stuffed full, but the dry fall and my late planting means the growth is rather sparse. Still, we'll enjoy a few fresh salads.

Here is my late fall garden goal list.

1. Plant garlic. (October)

2. Trim off perennial plants.

3. Mulch perennial beds with chopped leaves.

4. Drain garden hoses, pull out tomato cages, clean up tools, and tidy the garden shed for the winter.

5. Write down notes from this year's garden to aid in garden planning next year.

6. Mulch strawberries with straw. (December)

Is anything still growing in your garden?


  1. We have had some hard freezes,so our garden is history. Hubby has it all cleaned up,but hasn't been able to till because it's too wet. He also has to put the straw on the strawberries. I did clean out my flower beds and get rid of the plants out of pots. The porch looks so bare! Soon I can decorate with evergreen and such..which I also love to do!

  2. We haven't been able to have a garden for a few years due to having to rent a house where we moved to. However we recently bought a house and we will be setting up a garden in the spring. When I last had a garden (3 years ago) I didn't have 2 children homeschooling and my only child that was homeschooling was not as old, obviously. So now there is more to do with homeschooling. I was wondering how you work out the hours you homeschool and the hours the garden needs. Of course gardening is also learning and really learning is a lifestyle but at some point the other subjects need to be done too. I really don't know how to work this out properly.

    1. I'd encourage you to start with a small garden and slowly figure out how to work it into your schedule. We usually do our school work in the morning and early afternoon. Gardening gives us a great excuse to get outdoors and get some exercise. The most time consuming part of gardening is the harvesting, so we take the busiest season off from school, which for us is August and early September. I'm sure you will find a method that works for you, whether that is working in the garden on Saturdays, early mornings, or after school.

  3. Does garlic require a freeze time to grow?

    I remember as a child in Michigan our sour cherry tree was so full every spring. My Mom said it required the winter freeze to do that. My uncle wished he could grow them in California, but said he'd have to dump ice on it all winter!

    1. I don't think it needs to freezer. You can plant garlic in the spring, but fall planted garlic has a longer growing season and makes nicer heads, I think.

    2. I asked my hubby,who is the "grow person" here-abouts...he says the only reason to plant garlic in the fall is for larger bulbs. So Gina, you were right!

  4. We havent had a frost here as yet, but i have nearly finished in the garden just some shrubs to cut down, i feel the same i find it difficult to get out in the garden in the autumn, yet the spring i cant wait to get out there. All our summer veg is over i just have to take down the beans and canes, i have some "january king" cabbage that i hope will give us some veg in early spring. Thats a good idea about spreading the grass and leaf clippings.

  5. Hello Mrs. Gina,

    We have been so blessed by warm weather this autumn. We did have a hard frost that finished off the garden a couple weeks ago right at the same time my Dad experienced a health crisis requiring my to venture out west for a couple weeks. Now that I'm home, fall gardening clean up will be a priority this week as our ground should begin freezing very soon.
    Blessings to you and yours,


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