It’s Time to Get Planting for Fall

As I sit back and enjoy the literal fruits of my labor in the garden, I’ve turned my attention to the fall plantings. I live in an area that is relatively mild all year long (although the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a wet and cold winter this year), so cool-weather crops thrive in the garden.

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This year, I’m planting kale, cauliflower, two types of broccoli and Brussels sprouts and I’m starting some of my onions and garlic from seed. The seeds are nestled in potting mix in starter trays on my deck.


Once they sprout, I’ll plant them in the garden. I’ve been enhancing the soil with finished chicken and horse manure and covered the area with old carpet to smother weeds.


Traditionally, we don’t get our first frost here until November (although if the Almanac is correct, it may be sooner), so I won’t plant this outdoors until November. To protect them from frost and bugs, I’ll cover them. However, I may reuse our old shower doors to create a cold frame.


Of course, fall is also the time to plant garlic and your spring flower bulbs. Buy your bulbs now and get planting!


What will you plant this fall?


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Boost Your Mood in the Garden

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Plant sunflowers–they’re easy to grow and are good for wildlife and your mood!

Now is the time to started planning your garden. And, while you’re planning, think about your mood. If you’re prone to the blues, or just want more energy, plant vegetables and herbs that will give you a boost.

I saw this article from Rodale’s Organic Life, Fight Depression by Growing a Good-Mood Garden. I don’t know about you, but gardening always puts me in a good mood. The combination of being outdoors, digging in the dirt and seeing the (literal) fruits of my labor on a daily basis puts everything else in perspective. Sometimes when you’re stressed, all you need is a spade and some weeds to get your aggression out.

The article recommends the following mood-boosting crops to plant:
Swiss chard
Blue potatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Black-eyed peas
Evening primrose
St. John’s wort

Of these, the only ones I grow are sunflowers and lavender. Tomatoes don’t grow well where I live, although I do have some luck growing them inside the sunporch. However, I will have to add blue potatoes and chamomile to the list—the benefit of the latter is that I can also make a tea from it.

While it’s best to continue to take any medication you’ve been prescribed for your moods, adding these to your garden can only help. Get out in the sunshine and get planting!


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And the garlic was snuggled tight in its bed…

Second year zinfandel grapes.

Second year zinfandel grapes.

Just because it’s fall doesn’t mean that it’s time to put away the garden tools, retire your gloves and sit back and dream of seed catalogs (like the Baker Creek Seed catalog with its beautiful photos that make you want to order one of everything, regardless of whether you have the space for it or not). No siree! It’s time to get your ass outside and plant garlic, onions, spring flower bulbs and even some spring seeds, sweet cheeks.What you plant now, you’ll be able to enjoy next spring and summer.

Onions and hay-covered garlic.

Onions and hay-covered garlic.

A rose is a rose is a rose?
I’ve always wanted an impressive rose garden. When I visited Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, last year, I was inspired by the whole garden, particularly the rose garden. Roses tend to be pretty hardy and look nice in any yard. However the major selling point is their intoxicating smell. A quick Google search led me to, which features every variety of rose you could ever want, it seems. I’ve already planted a Rugosa rose, a drought-tolerant native of Japan that develops huge hips. Next up, the William Morris rose–how can you go wrong with a rose named for England’s celebrated textile designer, socialist and native of East London?

Rugs cover parts of the garden to kill leftover weeds, improve the soil and prevent weeds from growing.

Rugs cover parts of the garden to kill leftover weeds, improve the soil and prevent weeds from growing.

The Winter Garden Itch

I’ve got the itch. The dark, cold days of winter are the toughest time of year for gardeners. Our natural urge is to get outside and grow things. In most areas of the country, the ground is buried by several feet of snow. In my neck of the woods, the ground is wet and cold. It’s not the best time to start planting even if my native New Englander instinct says, “The ground is bare; it’s time to get planting.”


My favorite seed catalogue.

My favorite seed catalogue.

The garden is still in a deep sleep. My husband spent a few afternoons fencing it in and building a gate to keep the chickens out, after they ravaged my kale and chive seeds. I’ve been gradually pulling up the rugs that have covered once-grassy ground to reveal rich, dark soil. With my trusty tiller in hand, I’ve been turning the soil, pulling up the deep roots of weeds and unwanted plants. I’ve been collecting rocks and bricks from around the property and lined them up next to one another to outline the individual beds in which I’ll double or triple what I plant this year.


The seed catalogues that have arrived at the house are dog-eared and highlighted, while my garden plan for the year has dark eraser marks from where I’ve changed my mind a million times—Do I want three types of sunflowers or should I plant another type of corn? That squash looks interesting, but will we eat it? Do I try to give tomatoes another whirl or just throw in the towel and say, “I give up, damn you! I’ll just buy you at the Co-op.” Although I want to buy all of my seeds now, I know that I can’t plant them for another month or two even if I start them indoors, and it just seems cruel to let them go unplanted for that long.


The end of the season

Everything is dead in the garden. Well, not everything. The sunflowers are having their last hurrah. Since I planted them late, they didn’t grow quite as tall, but are still enjoying the last warm days nonetheless. The last of the cilantro is flowering and going to seed, and I finally dug up the one single garlic bulb that managed to grow this year.

The garden in more verdant times.

The garden in more verdant times.

At this point, I’ve pulled up the bird netting and let the chickens have at the garden scraps (although they got a bit aggressive with one of my strawberry plants, those jerks!). They’ve cleared away most of the scraps.

New garlic bulbs are in the ground, covered in straw for the winter. Kale, lettuce and chives are in the ground under a makeshift cold frame made from a glass shower door we found on the property. In the vegetable garden, the waiting begins.

Now is the lull between the harvest and when the first seed catalogues come in the mail. It’s the time to dream about next year’s garden, assess what crops worked this year, and plan what to grow next year.

While the plants and organic matter are breaking down, it’s the soil’s time to rebuild. Although it doesn’t seem like much is going on, in reality a ton of stuff is happening beneath the soil, all of which is important for the health of the soil and the health of the plants that will grow in it next year.