The end of the season is here. I don’t know what it is but every year, I think that I’ll be done cleaning up the garden and getting things organized for next year by the beginning of October. And then it’s mid-November and I’m still at it. We’ve had a relatively mildish fall with some chilly days and some warmer days and we’ve taken full advantage of any good weather to get as much done as possible.
There are only a few beds left in production:
Lettuce - still quite small so I keep waiting...
Perennial Bunching Onions
The kale bed has been ripped out. All fall I was looking forward to harvesting some frost sweetened kale leaves, but it didn't work out the way that I expected.
|Kale with some sad collards in the rear - all ripped out last week|
|Powdery Mildew on Kale Leaves|
The voluminous and billowy asparagus ferns are starting to yellow and I'll be waiting until they turn brown to cut them down. Then I'll be adding compost to the beds and topping them with a protective covering of straw. The weather will likely be quite cold by then so I’m placing tubs of compost beside the beds now so that I don't have to worry about lugging them around once temperatures are not nearly as hospitable.
The asparagus ferns are crazy lush...
hopefully a sign of bountiful future harvests :)
I’ve sheet mulched the area behind the asparagus beds (beside the blueberry bed). This is where the old (i.e. unconditioned, non-productive) straw bales were this year.
I’m thinking that I’ll be building a couple of skinny beds here, just like the blueberry bed (i.e. 2’ x 8’ each) and using them for ornamentals. I’m hoping for a more laid back year in the garden so I will build and fill the beds over the course of the summer, but they won’t be used until 2018.
Speaking of flower beds, I’m really looking forward to planting up the new bed that I created beside the shed:
New flower bed beside shed
This new flower bed will be the perfect spot for zinnias and tithonia; I'll also have some fun picking out a few more ornamentals to try out.
I still have to clean up the area where the properly conditioned straw bales were placed:
Conditioned bales - practically disintegrated
As you can see in the photo, my idea of using chicken wire to keep the bales upright and in place was a big ol’ fail. The bales decomposed so well that they ended up being a good few inches shorter than the chicken wire by the end of the summer and so the top of the chicken wire was bending over and cutting into the vines as they scrambled over it onto the lawn. The whole point behind this idea was to get 2 years out of the bales – which is obviously not possible when they are conditioned properly.
Instead of adding the used straw to the compost pile, I've decided to apply a thin layer to the beds that have been cleared out for the season:
This bed has been "put to bed" for the winter
I also added a good quantity of compost to the beds before topping them with the straw. I like doing this in the fall so that the beds are ready to go come spring although some beds - specifically those that are still occupied - will have to get their top up next year.
Another fall task completed in the past couple of weeks was planting the garlic and shallots.
Garlic bed laid out with 7 varieties of garlic
Still on the to-do list is the annual cleaning/disinfecting of seed starting equipment - cell packs, pots, trays, labels, etc. This is a necessary step in minimizing the incidence of damping off in the spring, a lesson I learned the hard way several years ago.
And that's it - we are then done for the season (other than the remaining harvests). But that doesn't mean the gardening fun is over. I've already started planning out next years beds, a task I really enjoy, and look what I found on the doorstep yesterday:
Perfect timing :)