The fall garden

I’m a little envious of folks who live in warmer zones – they can easily grow crops into the fall. Here in southeaster Wisconsin, we would need to get a little more creative and spend some time “babying” our plants to extend our harvest beyond the end of September. I suppose, if I’d had the foresight and hadn’t been so darn busy this summer, I could be harvesting some winter squash and greens. Next year? Maybe.  At least I got some garlic in the ground!

Boo and I spent a good chunk of the day last Saturday working up two new garden beds (one for potatoes, one for asparagus) and mulching our leaves/grass clippings to spread on them. Mulched leaves are really great for your garden beds – they break down easily, the earthworms loves them, and they suppress weeds. And I’ve read that grass clippings (in moderation) can help fix nitrogen issues. Being that we have both grass clippings and leaves in abundance, I was excited to give this a try! We have a maple and a birch tree in our front yard that drop an exuberant amount of leaves:

So we thought we would just roll over them using the bag on our lawnmower. Yeah, that got us about three feet before the bag was overflowing and spitting out mulched leaves in the grass. We finally decided to rake all of the leaves onto the paved driveway and then mulch them and rake them into an empty garbage can and wheel them to the backyard. It actually worked out really well that way, and didn’t take us long at all. We did have a neighbor drive by in confusion and explain that, if we raked them into the street, the city would pick them up…I thanked her and said that yes, we were aware of that.

The backyard didn’t have as many leaves, so Jason was able to mow a whole swath of lawn before he had to empty the bag. We ended up with five huge piles of mulched leaves and clippings – most of which I used on the existing and new garden beds.

I’m amazed at how much it’s already broken down! I spread the stuff six inches thick and it’s already down to half that size. Luckily, the threes in the backyard hadn’t dropped all of their leaves yet, so we’ll get some more mulch before winter comes to use next spring.

It’s weird, breaking sod for a new garden bed. Whenever I start, I always have a moment of panic and think to myself, “Wait- should I be doing this? Is this OK?” It must come from  years of never having my own garden space or something. It helps me to think of the things I’ll be planting in that space – corn and potatoes and asparagus, all things I’ve never had space to grow before.

I’ve had to be a bit more mindful now that I’m extending out into the lawn. I want the future gardens to be laid out well, as we’ll eventually fence the whole thing in and have walkways between the beds. Just because the garden will serve a practical purpose doesn’t mean it can’t look nice!

My final addition to the garden this was this little guy:

I’m going to attempt to grow some spinach in here over the winter. We’ll see how it holds up. I used plastic irrigation tubing (the kind you make hula hoops out of!) and attached it to stakes, which I drove into the ground. The plastic is an unused painter’s drop cloth, held down around the edges and clipped shut. I know, I’m super high-tech. Ha.

If this works remotely well, I’ll enlist Jason’s help to build something a bit more sturdier that we can put up and take down every year. Between the two of us, we eat SO much spinach, so we definitely get our money’s worth out of whatever we grow.

What’s happening in your garden this fall?

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One Comment to “The fall garden”

  1. your mini hoop house is adorable! i hope it works!

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