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The air is crisp and cool and the harvest is in. There are still days of nice weather yet to enjoy outside. Fall in the garden is a time of rest and preparation. The ground has produced its bounty for you and is now turning dormant for the winter. But for next year's garden, there are a few things you can do now to care for that soil, so it will continue to produce a bounty for you next year.
First remove any cages, panels, or supports you placed for the plants over the growing season. For me this looks like tomato cages, cattle panels for the beans, small cages for peppers support. As part of this process, you will be taking down any vines that are still standing and laying them on the ground.
Next gather your helping hands and start hauling compost. This is for a traditional in-ground garden and any raised bed gardens. I usually shoot for 1-2 inches across the in-ground garden and fill the boxes back up in the raised beds. Different people use different materials for their compost. Horse, sheep/goat, cattle, chicken manure works well and does best if applied in the fall so it can begin to break down over the winter. If you wait until spring the manure can be too rich and burn the plants. In this case you will need to apply extra water.
If you are refilling raised beds you can go ahead and cover the beds with 4-6 inches of mulch for the next year. This helps the moisture, and reduces the weeds in the beds for next season. Raised beds have the advantage of not needing to be tilled every spring as well, so you can take a step ahead on your spring work here.
If you are planning on garlic you can plant the cloves in the fall and mulch them with around 6 inches. They do well over winter and can then be harvested early in the summer allowing for a second crop of something else.
Finally relax! Step back and enjoy what you have accomplished this year. If you took notes throughout the growing season, review them over the winter. What did you plant? How much? What was produced? Was there enough or too much for you to use? Start making your plan for next year and how much you will want to grow.
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I am a farmer's daughter, farmers wife, and mamma to three outdoor loving kids. I love horses, gardening, the outdoors, and activities. I don't spend a whole lot of time inside in the summer, and spend all winter dreaming of summer. My favorite question has always been why.
My journey to self-sufficiency started after the birth of my second, when my hobby garden became a primary source of food. Every year since I’ve added something, either a new vegetable, fruit, or animal. It all started with a humble garden and the desire to feed my family.
I love teaching others what I have learned. Every momma needs some help right? Everyone should be thriving, not just surviving. I love helping others find a different way to their answers, and thriving.
Ready to learn more? Contact me to join my community!