Our final farm and garden harvests are in. Most of the fall leaves have tumbled down, laying beautiful rustic confetti for us to walk upon. A calm, warming sunlight shines under the patio and illuminates tidied garden, play hive and outdoor seating spaces. Like other growers and growing spaces, we are ready for a hibernating winter. And this is what we have done to prepare for it.
Rural Farm Manager Tony harvested the last of his greens, baby carrots and beets, green tomatoes, peas, and winter squash. At the Tiny Diner, we harvested the last of our kale, transplanted herbs for indoor use, and cleaned up untidy areas. We pulled up diseased plants from the roots up to compost them. And we cut off other plants at their base (like beans) to allow their roots to decompose directly in the soil.
After final harvests and plant removal, we make sure properly tuck in our growing spaces. It is not enough to remove annual plants. We seed cover crops like winter rye, winter peas, and oats in September (ideally) into our empty beds to prevent erosion through the late fall and early spring. There little sprouts will growing during cold nights and chilly days until the snow comes. At the rural plot, we add composted manure, as demonstrated by the late soil-builder expert Bruce Bacon of Garden Farme, to all of our beds. Then we mulch with 3-4″ of hay to keep soil in tact. For our gardens at the TD, we add straw-stuffed coffee bags and dense straw bales to growing spaces that will not receive snow but are outside so the plants do not freeze too hard and die.
Even with our garden and farm plots evanescing, there are still wonderful colors, textures and patterns to absorb and cherish. Come on down to the Tiny Diner for a hot tea or coffee and walkabout. It is a good time for taking notes not only on our plant season but on our personal season as well. Happy fall!