By Lydia Soucy
Fall is officially creeping in, our days are growing shorter, and our nights are getting cooler. Just the other day when I stepped outside, I could feel that change in the air. Have you ever experienced that? Where the breeze has a different note to it, a different scent, a different feel. The seasons are shifting as the wheel of life spins on. In some Zones this means finishing up their fall garden and beginning the preps of putting their garden beds to sleep for winter. In other zones, this is the beginning of a fall garden, and possibly a winter one as well.
I won’t lie, I am a little behind in getting my fall garden up and running. I had a rough couple of months with back-to-back Hashimoto flair-ups that just kept me knocked down and sluggish. But it’s all good, I still have time and I’ll be able to grow some lovely plants for this fall!
My plans for this year's fall garden are Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots - Dragon, Greens, Radish, Spinach, and Peas – Tom Thumb, I obtain most of my seeds from Seed Savers (https://www.seedsavers.org/).
These plants appreciate and love the cooler days and nights. The heat won’t scorch their leaves and won’t turn their flavors bitter. The only worry will be if there are any early frost dates before they are strong and hardy. Some of these plants can be started inside, giving you that head start when it’s time to get them into the ground.
This year, I’m feeling adventurous and sewing them directly into the soil. This will either be a great success or another one of those life lessons and growth in learning through trial and error.
We recently moved from Minnesota to Georgia. A huge difference in the growing climate and the excitement of having a longer growing season! Relocating to a new home has brought the struggle of re-creating a garden, figuring out my spacing, and what will need to be done differently this year. Essentially starting over from scratch and having to re-learn how to grow a successful garden.
I decided to go the route of building garden beds instead of just rototilling up a section of the yard and fencing it off it keep out critters. Each year my health has had some instance of decline and while I am working hard at healing, I must remember that healing is a marathon and not a race. Which means having to humble myself and find ways to work with my new health obstacles. So, while I dream of being a big-time homesteader with large acres of gardens, and a host of farm animals I must remain realistic with what I can physically and financially handle. Chronic pain and fatigue can take me out for days or weeks at a time. So, I needed to find ways to make my gardens as low maintenance as possible while still having a bountiful production.
At the beginning of this spring and with the amazing help of my friend, we built waist height garden beds that I could plant salads, greens, and herbs in. They are at a height where I don’t need to stoop or bend to maintain my plants.
I am adding two new 4’ x 8’ boxed garden beds to my yard, I have plans to expand more this spring, but for now, I am keeping within my means. My one-day project has evolved into a three-day adventure. I underestimated the amount of work that would need to go into digging into a hill and leveling out the beds, my enthusiasm clouded my judgment and what can I say? It was one of those eye-opening moments. I’ve always had flat yards that we just rototilled and laid garden cloth over.
Having to dig into terrain to level out boxes took some exploring and trial and error on my end. Everyone pitched in to help, the kids and my friend all made use of shovels and while we were tripping over each other it was a heart-warming experience to be out with my children creating something that we will be using over the years. I couldn’t have done this project without them.
Six (2″ by 8″) 8′ boards Two of the boards I cut in half for the ends. 3” – long exterior screws. I used galvanized to prevent rust. I used leftover wood from a previous project to help anchor and support the boxes. Unfortunately, since it was repurposed wood, I do not have exact measurements.
Cedar is the best way to go, unfortunately with my budget I couldn’t go that route and purchased wood treated with ACQ (https://www.news-leader.com/story/life/home-garden/2009/04/26/most-pressure-treated-lumber-no-longer-contains-arsenic/77200928/ site about ACQ) to protect against rot, decay and termites. There is a lot of hesitancy with treated wood and the worry with what will leach into the food that I am growing and then be ingested. But during these moments I must remind myself that I am doing the best I can with what I have. I have seen beautiful gardens with repurposed tires, I’ve used plastic buckets and so on. So lay that worry to rest and use and repurpose what you can.
The cost of making these beds, with the screws, dirt and wood came to about $200. Wood costs have thankfully begun to go back down, and most of my cost was in the soil.
Once the beds were built and placed into their spots and prepped, the planting began. Seriously, I underestimated the amount of dirt that I would be needing and this coming spring when I build more, I’ll be giving my local garden stores a c
all to see if I can have it delivered by the truckload.
Seeds – Planted right to left
· Carrots – Dragon
· Peas – Tom Thumb (these are great for those who do a lot of planter gardening)
· Collard Greens
The children had fun with this part, holding the seeds, counting them out and placing them into their holes and now we sit back and wait with our fingers crossed. I went with a tighter space planting method. As long as they are watered, watched for pests and issued and properly fertilized I’ll be able to get more from what I’ve planted by using every inch of space.