Fall Gardening Chores

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Hi everyone! It's such a beautiful fall day here in Iowa that I felt like babbling about it for a while. Since my garden was a disaster this year, I'm very anxious for spring to try it again, but at the same time I'm really enjoying the fall chores and the changing of the season.

The garden is all cleaned up and ready to be put to bed. This weekend we're going to stake out the new fence line for the chicken moat. Once we know exactly where the fence is going to go we're going to set out the rows. The garden area is about 3/4 acre that was pasture and we tilled rows between the grassy area instead of tilling the whole thing. Alot of it has gone back to the grassy stuff so I can change it all with no problem. Almost like starting from scratch again.

My plan for the rows this fall is to layout newspaper where I want the rows to be and then cover the newspaper with mulch. My hope is that by the spring, the newspaper and mulch will have killed most of the grass and weeds in the row and we can just till it under and be ready to go.

I have 3 rose bushes (I actually got 2 roses off one of them!). I'm mulching heavily around the bottoms of them to protect them from the cold. Doing the same for a couple new trees we planted.

And then there's the wood cutting for winter heat. Don't you just love the smell of fresh cut wood???? It's a lot of work cutting, splitting and stacking but it's one of our favorite chores.

What is everyone else doing to prepare for winter? Does anyone plant fall gardens where it's already frosting? Will anything grow? I know, I'm desparately wanting to plant again. I think I'm going to try a few things inside just for fun. Just wondered if anyone had a good idea for some outside fall veggies.

Happy Fall! Thanks for letting me babble!


-- Stacey (stacey@lakesideinternet.com), October 19, 2001


tring to get leaves,, other than oak to spread over the whole garden, the village has a place to take them, if you live in town,, and its supposed to be open on SAT,, 3 Sat s in a row,, and its been closed,, but gonna try again tomarrow,, want them before the snow flys

-- stan (sopal@net-port.com), October 19, 2001.

Fall is my favorite season! We had a beautiful day in upstate NY as well. I took a walk with the children down to our swamp.

I haven't done much of anything in terms of fall gardening. The place is self-mulching with leaves. I do have some bloodroot rootlets to plant and I'd better get going on it (for my medicinal herb garden). We had a very heavy frost about a week ago and I lost a lot of tomatoes. The afternoon of the frost, I picked as many as I could and canned tomato sauce. We have all our pumpkins, onions, and winter squash picked. It was a lousey year for squash because it was so dry.

My gardening goals for next season are to make the garden smaller (it was way too big this year and I wasted tons of space as well), plant more culinary herbs, and plant a few fruit trees. Our last place had a beautiful orchard, repleat with pears, peaches, blueberries, plums and apples, as well as chestnut and hazelnut trees. Our new place has no fruit or nut trees. I really miss having them.

-- amy (acook@in4web.com), October 19, 2001.

Stacey, if you mulch real well you won't have to till. You'd have to mulch the whole garden though. We use barn bedding and sometimes plain wheat straw to mulch deeply, and haven't tilled in 3 years. The soil here is hard red clay - when we tilled the first year the tiller could only get about 4 inches down. Now when I plant, I pull the mulch back, run my fingers through the dirt to loosen it, and plant. The soil is dark brown with tons of earthworms. If we let the mulch rot down too far (which we do on purpose in spring to let the soil warm up faster) and a lot of grass sprouts, we just trim it real short and throw more mulch on it. Supposedly when you till you disturb all the layers of microorganisms that exist to break down organic and nonorganic matter to make nutrients available to the plants. If you do till stuff under in the spring, make sure to add nitrogen, as all the nitrogen in the soil is tied up by the microorganisms trying to break down so much at once. We made that mistake, figured it out when our plants wouldn't grow.

-- Paula (chipp89@bellsouth.net), October 20, 2001.

Hi Stacey, I smiled at your observation that the garden was a disaster this year so you can hardly wait to try next year..We must be kindred spirits or something.haha. I'm the same way. In the garden, nothing is a failure, but a challenge for next year;)..We also are discussing the chicken moat idea for next year(the grasshoppers were horrific this year)...Still gotta clean up my spring garden--I might work on that today.

-- mary (marylgarcia@aol.com), October 20, 2001.

Hi Stace, We, also, are from Iowa. Yesterday we dug carrots. I saved half and took my daughter half. They are cleaned and in the refrigerator in plastic bags. After the first heavy frost, we will bake them and the cooler weather brings out a very nice sweet taste. We picked green tomatoes before the frost and they are ripening in the basement. Actually, they are ripening faster then I want them. We picked some really green ones thinking they would be slower to ripen, but not so this year. We have no animals at our place but have a neighbor who has promised to bring us over a couple of small loads of compost from the cleanings of his cattle. Whoopee!!!! That stuff is the best and our garden could use some. We have white, yellow and sweet potatoes in the basement along with acorn squash. Our garden did fairly well this year but we do mulch heavily with grass clippings. We have been here for 15 years and the soil is getting better every year. The first year it was bright yellow in color and very hard. (clay) It is turning browner each year. Would be interested to know what part of Iowa you are from. We have so few people that like to live simply around here. Very refreshing to hear from you. Jean

-- Jean (kjean@i-rule.net), October 20, 2001.

Stacey, I strongly believe in applying laziness judiciously, so I fenced in my garden. In late fall, I dump all the compost from the bins, the manure from the barn and the rabbits, and all the leaves from the lawn in the garden, then let the chickens run around in the garden all winter. They till in the compost/manure/leaves and by spring time I can put them back in their moat (which, by the way, I have and love) and my tilling work is done. By this time of year I have a good 6 inches of worm castings in my garden and the soil there is black, rich and loamy. When I started out 10 years ago, it was half sand, half gravel. In truth, I only started turning the chickens into the garden four or five years ago, and most of the soil improvement has happened in that time.

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), October 21, 2001.

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