Putting Gardens to Bed

We’re trying to coax food out of our fall gardens, with mixed success so far.  But even though those gardens are getting the most attention these days, there’s work to do on the others as well.

Our spring gardens are sowed in a winter cover crop–a mixture of winter rye, Austrian winter peas, oats and crimson clover.  Cover crops help us maintain soil health and fertility.  Once the cover crops are established, then there’s nothing more to do on those gardens till next year.   They’re tucked into bed for the winter.

The summer gardens aren’t as far along.  The garden that gave us watermelons this summer has been tilled and soon I’ll be planting garlic and onions in it for overwintering.  The peas and beans are still producing, so it will be awhile before I can start putting those gardens to bed. Yesterday I began taking down the fences from around the sweet potato gardens.  With harvest just a couple of weeks away, I’m actually inviting the deer in to to eat the vines, thus saving me the trouble of pulling them all up and hauling them away.

I also spent a lot of time yesterday working in the now-expired tomato gardens, and I’ll be at it again today.

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We use the Florida Weave method to support our tomatoes.  That means we drive in metal t-posts after every two plants and weave baling twine among the posts to create support for the growing plants.  The method works great and is much better than individually staking and tying each plant.  But at the end of the season, after the plants have all died, it’s necessary to go back and remove all the twine and pull up the t-posts, a process that takes many hours. Hopefully today we’ll finish up.

Gardens become unruly messes by the end of the year.  It’s a satisfying feeling to have them all cleaned up and tucked into bed for winter.  I’m actually kind of looking forward to those long dark days of winter.