Autumn in the Garden | Recap 2017
Hello! Normally I have been posting our seasonal garden recaps on the following solstice, but our garden is very much finished and will be waiting for us next year... maybe. You might have noticed that there has been a lot of commotion on our social media accounts as we have been trying to sell our little homestead. Oh my - it has been a stressful 18 days. You and I are thinking the same thing... that's it?! It feels like months have passed honestly, as we've gone through two failed offers and are now onto the possible third. I am crossing my fingers that this one sticks! Why are we moving? We found some acreage! I really can't share much else now until everything is finished, papers are being signed, but we may or may not be gardening in this location next year. That seems a little scary and strange! But I am excited for either option. If we end up staying at our little homestead, then we'll continue to expand the garden as planned, just in the spring instead of now.
But let's talk about the autumn season! For the most part, I somehow feel like I missed most of it. Autumn is always a really busy time of year for us; we travel to shows, are constantly making our products, I am planning blogs and freelancing, and we are beginning to prepare for the oncoming holidays, for our customers and for ourselves. There is no rest for the small business owner! With that in mind, we harvested quite a bit in September, found less to gather in October, and as soon as the third week of October hit we were cleaning up the last of the annuals and planting the garlic. Whoever moves into our house is going to have lots of yummy garlic to eat! Ha!
10 Things I Learned
- Keep better care of your garden journal. At the beginning of the season, before there were even plants in the ground, I was excitedly journaling every day. It was fun to think and dream and scheme about my garden plans. As the seasons moved along, I journaled less, and I believe I completely gave up on the task by July. Oops! While there was not much detrimental activity that happened like a major plant disease or pest outbreak, I probably should have documented things more like the exact dates I harvested tomatoes or potatoes, the days I first spotted squash bugs or cucumber beetles. This would have helped me out for next year! I think it was a little difficult for me, as well, since I documented so much of the garden in this space, though often not on exact dates. I am sure it is no surprise that this blog is not written in real time!
- Plant more varieties! It was so exciting when the pumpkins were finally showing up at our favorite Amish shops and pumpkin farms! I didn't buy a single pumpkin or squash this year because we were already growing so many of our own. But I had only grown a few varieties: pie pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and butternut squash. I began to realize that I really would have liked some white pumpkins, the warty kind, and green pumpkins! There are so many gorgeous winter squash to choose from. And I suppose that is true of most of our other vegetables. More variety and diversity is always better in the garden. Though the first year experimenting with the "regulars" is always good.
- Don't clean up the garden. I loved researching this topic and discovering that your soil is always going to be better if you take care of it by feeding it. It doesn't need a full wipe down/clean up, nor does it need a synthetic fertilizer. Some plain organic matter like compost, fallen leaves, and/or mulch is perfect. It keeps the soil insulated, feeds back nutrients, and creates homes for overwintering insects like butterflies and lady beetles. You can read more about my tips for "uncleaning" your garden below!
- Buy bulbs early! Well, I missed out on the bulb wagon completely. In my defense, there has been a lot going on, but I hated hopping on over to Floret Flower a few weeks ago and seeing that all of her spring blooming bulbs were gone!!! It's been really difficult to find Ranunculus bulbs. Do you know where to find any?! Either way, it's good to make a note to order bulbs in late August/early September before they are sold out.
- Plant garlic now. I already knew this, actually starting out in the spring, but was really to happy to remember the tip for this coming autumn. I planted my garlic a couple of weeks ago, and it was so fun! Autumn is the time to plant garlic for an early summer harvest, and planting at this time results in bigger, better bulbs. You can read my garlic planting tips below as well!
- Pay attention to the "days to harvest." I planted a lot of "autumn vegetables" this year, and found that there were quite a few that did not make it to proper maturity, namely beets, broccoli, and cauliflower. I have trouble with cauliflower and cabbages so far! I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but they never mature. Anyway, the reason my broccoli and beets did not do well was because I planted them at the correct time, however, they were taken out by cutworms about two weeks after planting. I decided to plant my leftover transplants elsewhere, which survived the cutworms, but were planted too late to mature into something edible, though you can eat the greens. Dang! Watch your planting dates so that you do not miss your window.
- Figure out how to start parsnips. Has anyone else had trouble getting parsnips to start? I planted them five times and they did not sprout even once. I wonder what the trouble is! This is something I may have to take to my master gardener friends and see what the story is.
- Look into extending the season. I have been listening to some podcasts on extending your gardening season to be all year long. How nice would it be to grab fresh lettuce in the garden while it's snowing?! A greenhouse is a great way to do that, and I think that I could probably get some lettuce and other vegetables to grow in there, just like a cold frame, even though there is no heat inside. I have also been studying up on the use of hoop tunnels for winter gardening! What are your thoughts on extending the season? I am also exhausted and probably will not try it this year!
- Get your soil tested! I still need to do this, but it is a piece of advice that I am always going to push. Learn what is happening in your soil so that you may amend it and get it as healthy as possible. Healthy soil creates healthy plants!
- Listen to others advice, take it with a grain of salt, and do whatever you were going to do anyway. This is probably my most favorite lesson of all. It is one that I have to remind myself of daily, in all aspects of life. I never consider anyone to be an expert, especially not myself, and as someone who gardens "publicly" online, there are always opinions and advice flying. For the most part, I love it! I love hearing stories and experiences. I suppose this is just a friendly reminder to not become discouraged when someone tells you that you've made a mistake in the garden; most times it is constructive criticism, and others, well... you are probably doing just fine! If you got some vegetables to grow, then you are well on your way to figuring it out. Don't fret and just keep planting!
Autumn's Garden 2017
And I guess that's a wrap until next season! While we may not be out working the soil, there is still so much to plan for in the year ahead. Whether we will be working the soil at this home or in a new one, it will soon be time to discuss purchasing seeds, planning garden beds, starting seeds, succession plantings, and more. I am really excited! There are so many new and exciting plans I cannot wait to share with you. What are your garden dreams for next year? Let me know in the comments!