Growing a fall garden is spring in reverse. Timing plants for harvest in October, November and December requires taking into account the increasingly shorter and colder days when you need fully matured plants by the harvest date. I typically have to push the seed start date up by two to three weeks. When December rolls around, the mature lettuce should be harvested otherwise our cold winters do some damage to the lettuce leaves. The mesclun doesn’t mind it.
Bugs are still a problem in the fall (unlike the spring). I still find myself squishing slugs daily from the spinach and lettuce. Also, I don’t need any row covers in the hoop house until December. By December, the hoop house will be harvested completely. By the first week of january I’m starting the onion seeds indoors. By the January 20, I’m starting the spring lettuce again.
I’ll make this a short post with some updates on what worked and didn’t. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a fan of multi-planting, meaning multiple plants planted in the same soil block. For green onions this works well, as well as spinach. For large onions it was for the most part a failure. They didn’t seem to appreciate it too much. The beets seemed to complain too. These crops seem to want space and breathe a little.
On the tomato front there were huge successes and some mild disappointments. The varieties that were grown inside the hoop house were: Great White, Cherokee Green, Kiwi, Persimmon, Copia, Paul Robeson, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter. Of these I wasn’t too thrilled with the Copia, Cherokee Purple (I’ve grown these before) and the Mortgage Lifter. Their reputation seemed to outshine their performance in my garden. However, a couple of first time trial tomatoes in the garden blew me away. Three in particular were the Kiwi, Persimmon and Cherokee Green. The Kiwis were super early with the other two providing tomatoes later in the year. All were extremely prolific.
For the outdoor tomatoes (Big Beef, Debarao, Amish Paste), Fusarium will was a problem (see my last post). But I was still able to get 10 quarts of tomato sauce. Not bad considering.
I did the pole bean thing this year after several years of not going there. I think the reason I don’t do it every year is the work involved. The scaffolding, supports, tear down and clean up of the whole thing is not easy. I burn out on it. But there were a lot of beans to be had and we ate them with gusto.
The compost production went flawlessly. The three bin system worked to perfection. However, it’s important to note that if you’re getting heavy rains, to cover it. Too much water on a composting pile will turn in anaerobic. I didn’t weigh the compost but my estimate would be around 500 pounds of the stuff. The compost production in our garden is pretty much a year round deal. There’s only a brief time when things stop.
I was groundhog-free almost all year, with two exceptions. Once in the spring and once about 4 weeks ago. In the last instance, some rogue groundhog came into the hoop house and ate the October lettuce. I closed down the house and put up fencing in the doorways and never saw him/her again. It’s unfortunate because I never found where it lived. I know of all the potential spots they want to make shelter but it was never found. Next spring it may make a surprise appearance again. Oy. I’ve already taken out several already; they just keep coming.
The berries planted this year did well considering it was their first year in the ground. The raspberries produced a little, but late. The blueberries grew some as first-timers. I’m not sure I was able to get the soil as acidic as they would have liked. I used sulfur but the plants seemed a little stressed. Next year I’m going to try ammonium sulfate. Also, with blueberries in their first year, all flower buds were nipped off to encourage root growth instead. We’ll see if they can get more to size next year.
I’ll have more posts this year to wind things down, harvest numbers, etc. Cheers.