Friday, October 17, 2008

The autumn deadline looms

While I have many plans for the colder months, it is still early autumn and there are outdoor chores I need to finish. My tomato plants are still producing, strawberries are ripening, and my beans are blossoming and offering green pods. I am collecting this late bounty as long as it is produced as I do some final chores. The decreasing daylight makes it all more critical so I need to keep focused.

Finish constructing the new raised garden beds.
Since I enjoyed both gardening and processing my produce, I decided to add more garden space. Using salvage untreated wood, I have created two 8 feet by 4 feet by 7 inch beds on the south facing part of my lawn. These and the current 9 feet by 9 feet raised bed will be growing space for my vegetables. Furthermore, a 12 feet by 4 feet bed will be the new home of a black raspberry patch on the west side of my house. The new beds need to have soil added to them and this requires my dad, who is currently in the throes of harvesting soybeans. However, I have leaves and compost to add to the gardening space. Leaves are not a problem, but I need to finish raking what I have in the beds. The composted (or partially composted) horse manure will require a few more visits to the farm before I call it good enough prior to flying snow.

Mow the lawn at least once more.
I am a bit backed up in my plans. I wanted to use the leaves in the new raised beds, but since they are not finished, I could only do some minor raking. With leaves on the lawn, I did not want to mow especially as I have a mulching lawn mower. So once the beds are made and the leaves are gone, I will do one more pass on the lawn (hopefully the last time).

Empty the rain barrels.
Both 55 gallon rain barrels are full. I plan on storing some of the rain water in the basement to water my indoor plants over winter. After that, I will water my trees with the rest, clean out the barrels and store them for the winter. The diverter will also need to be prepared for the winter season and capped off after the diverter hoses are removed. I have to find space for two rain barrels this winter and that may mean my basement will play host to them rather than the garage. This is a definite drawback to a single-car garage.

Mulch the front rhubarb bed.
I planted some rhubarb on my front lawn as the first step in my plans to convert my lawn to more edible landscaping. The first planting is more vigorous than the second, but the sod I turned over did not eliminate unwanted green growth. As a result, I need to do some weed pulling, laying down of newspaper and then bark mulch. The bed is not large, about 10 square feet, but I plan to expand it with herbs and beans next year. Keeping the weed growth down for next year will be important as I add other plants to the garden space.

Prepare current gardening areas for winter.
I would like to put a nice layer of horse manure down on my 9' by 9' bed along with some mulch. This will add to its fertility and I will have one less step to take next spring before planting. Space around trees and any bare soil around the foundation will need an extra layer of mulch before cold really sets in.

Finish any started yard work.
This is my catchall point. I trimmed my rose bushes but left the branches out to dry. Getting these thorny bits into the composter prior to snow flying is important, but the leaves are taking up all the extra space I have. My new trees will need to be staked for the winter and tree spirals added. I have ~10 tulip bulbs to plant and need to clean up my garage prior to winter. And my strawberry plants will have to be protected before winter sets in (straw is just waiting to be piled on the bed). I also plan to plant five cloves of garlic before it gets too cold. My drip irrigation jugs around the trees will have to be removed and stored for the winter.

After all this is done, I can turn my attention to my winter list--and plans for what I can grow next spring. To be honest, I am looking forward to growing more of my own food and being able to harvest and preserve it.

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