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Preparing Your Vegetable Garden For Fall

September 14th, 2014

 

Rotate Crops

Right now, before you forget, mark a few days in your calendar to prep your garden for the fall season. Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy seasonal pumpkins, squash, green beans, broccoli and cabbage. A full weekend is all you need to get everything prepped and ready to go. Here’s how we prepare our garden for Fall.

Clean Out The Garden

First look around and see what’s working in your garden, and what’s not. Pull out the plants that are no longer producing. Remove plants that are diseased, old or damaged by pests – they will most likely never produce abundantly again. Weeds also grow rampant in the summer time, and need to be pulled – or made into a snack. Our guide to preventing and removing weeds can help with this endeavor. Leave all frost friendly veggies if the foliage is still healthy and producing. Remember that disease-free plants can be added to the compost bin. If you’re suspicious they have a problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take it from us, you don’t want the same issues coming back to haunt you while you should be festively decorating for Halloween (been there). 

Loosen Up The Soil 

Using a flat shovel, or a digging fork – begin chopping up the bare soil. Flip over the soil using a “thrust-tilt-flip-chop” rhythm. You’ve got this! Now do it one more time (soil is at its best when tilled twice). 

Amend the Soil & Incorporate Organic Compost 

Amending the soil is vital. Your previous plants have stripped it of its rich nutrients. Adding worm castings or an organic fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (potash) can enhance any vegetable in your garden. Also, you may want to incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil and add vital nutrients for your new plants.

Cover Up Your Soil 

Adding mulch will retain the seed moisture, and helps to prevent it from baking at the end of the summer. Straw of hay works well as an insulator, but there really are a variety of mulch options you can use. If yore concerned about keeping the straw down, consider using a floating row on top of the mulch

Think About Sunlight Take note of the position of your garden and the sun. Decide which plants will require full or partial sun, and re-position your garden accordingly. Use large plants (like sunflowers) to protect plants that require more shade. Remember the saying, “The right plant in the right space”

When To Start Seed 

Most seed needs to start before the nights turn cold. If you live in a climate with early frost dates (zones 1-4), your fall vegetable garden should be started mid-summer, between July and August. Even if your daytime temperatures are still in the 80’s and 90’s, evening temps will start to dip and the length of day light will begin to decrease. Therefore, select seed varieties with a small number of days to maturity and get them in the ground on time. 

Plan What You’ll Need For Fall

Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops (Check out these super adorable DIY markers that kids can help with!).  If you’re thinking about which plants will do well in the Fall, the Brassica family in particular grows very well in cool weather (think broccoli, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, chard, collards, kale, spinach). Mustard greens also tend to be less bitter when grown in cool weather climates. Root crops like parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can also do quite well. Most of them can take a little frost – but you can extend the season up to 30 days by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

A Reminder About Frost Damage: To prevent frost damage, the best method is to move plants in containers or pots inside before the first frost. However, if plants are rooted in the ground, use old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and lightly drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight.  Stones, stakes or bricks can also be used to prevent covers from blowing off.  Avoid using heavy blankets or place wire around the plant to balance the weight and prevent crushing.

***Friends, we’re curious: What are you planting in your garden this fall? 

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information or message us on Facebook.

 

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Don’t Fall for the “Fall” Fallacy: Autumn is an Awesome Time to Start a Garden

October 12th, 2013

shutterstock_119313934Have you have always wanted to grow your own garden and vowed that this year was the year, but found yourself so busy all spring and summer that you never quite got around to it? And now that the fall has arrived, you think it’s too late to start planting anything this year?

Good news: it’s never too late in the year to begin an indoor garden and in fact, starting small with a container garden is a great way to get a feel for the planting process before investing time, money and energy in a full-scale in-ground garden.

Alternatively, there are plenty of cool weather options if you want to plant a raised bed garden outside, so don’t think that just because the air is acquiring a chill that you’re completely out of outdoor options.

In fact, the fall actually presents some unique benefits for gardening. For one thing, the cooler weather is easier on the humans and plants, alike. Plus, the ground is still warm enough for roots to establish themselves this year, whereas if you wait until spring, you need to wait until the frost is over and that can be tricky (late frosts, etc.).

Even if your long-term goal is simply to grow items inside, the point is the same: there’s no time like the present to get going on your growing. Here are a few tips you can use in either growing situation, as well as suggestions for various types of fall vegetables that can still take root in your raised bed garden this year and some considerations for your container garden.

First Things First

Initially, you may think that a raised bed garden and a container garden are the same thing. After all, isn’t a container garden just pots of plants that are raised out of the ground? Not exactly.

A raised bed garden uses soil with the addition of compost to grow items and is often more closely associated with in-ground growing. Many times the bed is “raised” in the sense that it is merely built up to the point that it sits just above ground level and is boxed in with some sort of siding, most often a type of lumber. You might also have a raised bed that is perched upon a platform, thereby making it easier for the gardener to tend to the plants without having to bend over or kneel on the ground.

Container gardens, on the other hand, use soilless potting mix that must have a means for sufficient drainage. Although you can use your preference of containers, keep in mind that pottery dries out faster than plastic, so if you love the look of a terracotta pot, you can easily place a plastic tub or bucket inside of the pot, provided they both have drainage holes.

Both options are great for small spaces and tend to look neater than a large, unruly garden, since they reduce weeding. Starting plants from seeds is also an option for both methods.

Additionally, all plants have several basic requirements for survival that don’t depend on their physical planted location:

  • Sun: At least five to six hours of full sunlight every day is necessary for healthy growth.
  • Water: Although each plant has specific preferences where moisture is concerned, they all need it!
  • Food: Nutrients can be added in the form of liquid food or compost.
  • Well-drained soil is crucial to encourage healthy root growth, to prevent root rot and other diseases, and to ensure plants maintain appropriate chemical balances.

Fresh Fall Outdoor Options

If you opt for a raised bed garden, a few options that will survive and even thrive in chillier outdoor weather include:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Spinach

Just be sure to cover them with a blanket or utilize winter lights on especially cold nights or if you are getting a late start getting them in the ground.

*Tip: Fall foliage is a fantastic addition to your pile if you create your own compost. The last few lawn mowings of the season contribute to your “greens” and the dried leaves that fall throughout autumn can serve as some of your “browns!”

Herbaceous Harvest

Because indoor container gardens facilitate growth all year long, the fall is a fantastic time to see what seeds you can sprout inside. A collection of culinary herbs might be the perfect place to start, contenders include:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Parsley

*Tip: If you opt for a container garden, don’t use dirt you’ve dug up from the ground; even if used solely as a mix-in, outdoor garden dirt can contain parasites and soil-borne diseases which can be deadly to indoor plants. Instead, purchase soil mix or make your own and be sure to add time-released fertilizer.

What are some of your favorite cool weather garden components?

 

About the author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Home Depot store associate in Illinois for over 10 years, Chris Long enjoys giving tips ranging from when to plant or build a raised bed garden to fall lawn care maintenance. Chris is also a regular contributor on outdoor decor and gardening products for Home Depot’s blog

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How to Transition from a Summer to a Fall Vegetable Garden

September 14th, 2013

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Whenever we tell someone that we’re planting a fall organic vegetable garden, we sometimes hear, “Woh! I thought it was too cold to plant.” But there are quite a few vegetables we recommend planting at the end of the summer because they love the cool weather. Be sure to check off your chores, and you’re ready to go for fall!

Chores For Transitioning From a Summer To a Fall Garden

*First look around and see what’s working in your garden and what’s not. Pull out the plants that are no longer producing, and remove any lingering weeds or debris.

*Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops. We love this crop marker idea if you want to get your children involved!

*Before sowing in particularly hot climates, shade and water the area for a few days to allow the soil to cool down.

*Since the previous plants have used most of the nutrients from the soil, incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil when planting something new.

*Adding mulch will retain the seed moisture, and helps to prevent the soil from baking at the end of the summer. Straw or hay works well as an insulator, but there really is a variety of mulch options  you can use. If you’re concerned about keeping the straw down, consider using a floating row on top of the mulch.

What To Plant At The End Of Summer

The Brassica family in particular grows very well in cool weather (think broccoli, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, chard, collards, kale, spinach). Mustard greens also tend to be less bitter when grown in cool weather climates. Root crops like parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can also do quite well. Most of them can take a little frost – but you can extend the season up to 30 days (give or take depending on mother nature) by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

Planting Tips

*Count back from frost date but tack on extra time to the calculation. Remember that the days are getting steadily shorter and cooler as fall plants mature. Don’t expect them to produce as fast as in longer and warmer spring time days.

*You generally don’t want to plant a seed more than 3 times the thickness of the seed. Strive to plant the seed two times the thickness; remembering that any deeper can impose stress, making it an issue for the plant to grow above the soil.

*Sow approximately one seed about every two inches. You don’t want to plant too many together, yet being too skimpy can cause problems too! You will be thinning them out later, so make like Goldilocks when sowing seeds. You’ll find your rows will look “just right” after some practice.

*If you’re trying to conserve water, focus watering activities on the most vulnerable plants – along with the oldest trees and shrubs on the property.

**Fellow gardeners, what are you planting for your autumn garden?

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

 

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Kids and Fall Gardening: Make It Fun!

September 14th, 2011

If you’re a fall gardener and you have children, you can provide them with wonderful, educational experiences via your garden and plants. From exploring nature to delving into biology to showing older, budding chefs how to prepare simple dishes with fresh fare from the garden, you can plant nurturing and inquisitive seeds inside your children that can last a lifetime. And with kids getting back to school, it’s also a great way to foster a sense of learning and study.

A fall garden is home to a wonderful variety of bugs that make great biology subjects. When you and your kids come across bugs, you can educate your kids on the roles that each bug plays in the garden. We even have blog posts dedicated to garden heroes and villains (bugs!), including Garden Villain: Itsy Bitsy Spider Mites, Garden Hero: The Green Lacewing, AKA Aphid Lions, Garden Villain: The Leafhopper, and more.

Do you have a child that displays a love for drawing? A fall garden provides the perfect environment for sketching…You never know: you may have a future naturalist or scientist in your family. From plants to insects, sketching has a long history as a means of scientific investigation. Surprise your artistic child with a blank journal and colored pencils for their “field notes,” and then teach them how to observe bugs and plants and jot down notes. From the behaviors of a specific bug to the colors of a Red Express Cabbage as it matures, there are so many sketching opportunities to be found in a fall garden. Another great activity for a budding artist is to have him or her draw a plant as it grows from a seedling to maturity.

If you have a child that loves food and loves to help in the kitchen, a fall garden can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. Teach your future chef how to tell when lettuce, broccoli and other fall garden vegetables are ready for harvesting. When it’s time to make a salad with your home grown foods, walk your child through the salad making process, from harvesting the vegetables right from the garden to cleaning the vegetables to preparing the vegetables for a salad. Talk about our five senses and have your child describe how each one is affected by, say, a head of lettuce. Before you know it, you’ll have your own personal salad maker and a child who is eager to experiment with a variety of healthy tastes and textures.

Kids + Vegetable Gardening + Fun = A Love for the Freshest, Healthiest Foods

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