Oct 21, 2013

October Garden, Wrapping Up

This year I didn’t want to wait and do a drawn out garden cleanup job where I pull everything up as it gets nipped by frost. Lately we’ve just had a packed, slightly overwhelming schedule. I just had to GET.IT.DONE. Finito. See you next year garden, hopefully we have better weather because this year was a flop! I just didn’t have time for anything but a complete destruction job to package it for winter and be done with it. We have a toddler who doesn’t nap as much as he used to and likes to get into trouble explore... so it’s not ideal right now to have him with me back here without my full attention. And we’ve been juggling the broken shower, catching up from vacation, trying to enjoy fall and starting the weather-sensitive attic flooring project… it’s a lot to juggle!

So this is what the garden looks like now:

All that’s left is half of one bed - the swiss chard (since it’s magnificent and a cool weather crop), the carrots (which aren’t ready quite yet), and the herbs that I’ve been overwintering and transplanting (and won’t be pulling up, just covering with leaves for insulation). Everything else is gone.

The vines were already gone and the tomatoes were dead, those were very easy beds to clean up. The flower bed was harder. I picked all the pretty flowers before pulling up the stems. I chopped down and dug up the dahlia. It felt cruel to uproot such healthy plants for no reason except my own convenience, but I was in a tough-guy no-nonsense mood. I kept reminding myself that we’re supposed to have a hard freeze this week and they would be dead soon anyways. I picked the beans and cut them down. The hoses came up, the trellises taken down, stakes pulled out, the black plastic pulled up. All I need to do is put down fresh black plastic (and blow out the leaves, but there are still a lot on the trees so we're holding off on that).

Oh and I’m sure you’re wondering WHY there are marigolds scattered across the tomato bed. I heard that their parts are very good for amending the soil against tomato loving nasties. Before putting the black plastic down, I’m going to turn them into the soil to decompose. I figured it couldn’t hurt, there’s nothing lost if it doesn’t work.

Normally I do a full garden summary this time of year. The failures, the successes, what I want to do differently next year. But this year was just so unusual. It was a fantastic year for basil, swiss chard and marigolds - and lousy for everything else. So I’m going to skip the summary and go right into my notes for next year:
  • Keep the tomato seedlings high up and far away from curious toddlers (so we don’t have to buy them all from the nursery again)
  • Plant tomatoes deeply for a better root system
  • More cherry tomatoes! Somebody is a huge fan.
  • Protect direct-sow seeds with glass jars. I completely forgot about this trick in the spring - the jar acts as a mini greenhouse against cold weather AND protects the seedling from bugs.
  • Don’t plant squash and zucchini. It pains me to skip them, but those nasty squash vine borers need to move on.
  • Do plant spring crops of spinach, lettuce, swiss chard and more peas (and hopefully next year is better for lettuce and spinach)

I did a big weeding job around the garden paths and I’m working on weeding the rest of the beds throughout the yard. It’s a lot of work, but I’m trying to do a little bit every time we’re outside to fit it in.

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