Preparing the Garden for Winter

 
 

Fall is one of my favorite times of year. The Sugar and Red Maples are in their full glory, painting the hillsides bright shades of yellows and reds. The hot days of summer are gone and It’s time to get the garden ready for winter. Our more importantly having it ready to go for next spring’s crops.

Soil Test: Now is a good time to have a soil test done to determine if your soil will benefit from amendments.  A soil test will tell you the pH, acidity or. alkalinity of your soil, level of organic matter and basic nutrient levels. The most important is your pH. If you pH is not between 6-7 you will need to adjust accordingly. Know is the perfect time because it takes months for the pH to adjust itself.

Cleaning: Pull up old vines and vegetable plants.  Insect pests that feed on these plants during summer and fall often lay eggs on the old plants.  If the vines are left on the soil surface, insect eggs will survive the winter and hatch in the spring. The same is true for fungus. If your squash had powdery mildew and you leave the vines all winter you are guaranteeing you will have it again next year. Any diseased plant material should be burned and not added to the compost pile since most home compost piles don’t get hot enough to kill these pathogens.

Weeding: There are more reasons than aesthetics to get rid of weeds in your garden.Lambsquarters, for example can bear up to 72,500 seeds per plant.  If even 50% of the seedlings germinated next spring, you'd have 36,250 plants to pull or otherwise get rid of. It’s much easier to reduce keep your population now then to be inundated to spring.

Planting: October is garlic planting time for us. Plant bulbs 6-inches apart and 4-inches deep, add a light layer of mulch at planting time, and follow with a substantial mulch layer after the ground freezes and the plants are dormant. Make sure to plant your garlic in a new spot in the garden every year.

Topdressing:The vast majority of gardens can benefit from the addition of organic matter in the fall. Good things to use are shredded leaves, compost or aged manure.

Finally it’s time to reflect on your year and review your triumphs and failures.

What did you have too much of, what did you have too little of , what did or didn’t grow well. Keeping a garden journal will help you be a better gardener from year to year.

 

 

PLANTING RASPBERRIES

Spring is the time to plant bare root Raspberries. Last week our delivery arrived from Nourse Farms. They are a great nearby source for all types of berries. We ordered two varieties to get our berry production up and going. One is Killarney, it produces berries in early-mid season. The other one is Nova, a mid season variety. Both have great depth of flavor.

So here’s how you plant your bare root raspberries

  • Pick a location that is in full sun with good air flow. Proper air flow will reduce disease and molding of your fruit.

  • Next prepare your soil. Your bed size will depend on how many berry plants you are starting with. Plants need to be spaced 18-24” apart while rows should be 8-12 feet apart. The width of your mower helps in determining row spacing. Remove all sod from row. Raspberries like a slightly acid soil (ph 6.5-6.8).  Amend soil if necessary

  • Once your bed is prepared dig a trench that is 3-4” deep by 1 foot wide, in the middle of your row.

  • Now it’s time to plant. Remove bare root plants from packing material and place in a pail of water. This helps to stop plants from drying out during planting and rehydrates them. Place your first plant at the head of your row and cover with soil. Plant shallow to encourage roots to sucker. Measure 18-24” from that plant and plant your next one continuing along until finished.

  • Mulch lightly the first year to help keep moisture in and weeds out.

  • Once established a trellis system will help with harvesting. Stay tuned for trellis making 101.

PLANTING ARUGULA

We have been busy on the farm planting spring salad greens. Arugula is one of my favorites!

As I’m seeding it, all I think of is a fresh arugula salad with shaved parmesan, YUM!

You plant arugula as soon as the soil is 45-55 degrees and can be easily worked.

For us in Vermont this ranges from mid-April to the first of May.

So here’s how you grow it.

  • Sow seed ¼ inch deep one apart. Thin plants to 6” apart as it starts to grow.

  • Add the thinnings to a salad.

  • Make new plantings every 2-3 weeks for a continual harvest all spring and early summer.

  • Plant in full sun to partial shade. Keep soil evenly moist for best flavor and to reduce bolt.

  • To harvest pluck the outer leaves from the plant.

GREENHOUSE

Getting the greenhouse together so we can start some indoor planting.  Doubtful we will get another frost but you never know