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October 14, 2012 / 74

Garden Prep, Brush Clearing, and Planning for Next Year

It’s fall. That means that all the old weeds have to be cleared out of the garden to make way for the new. If you don’t do this in the fall, you’ll pay for it in the spring and summer next year as the bugs and such will winter in the trash and weeds you leave them for bedding. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the kindness… but YOU may not when you’re fighting them off trying to keep a few bits of food for yourself next year.

If there is anything that will point up the deficiencies of your garden spot, it’s a drought. Our garden spot, the main one, is deficient in several respects. For example, the carrots looked like little balls with lots of octopus legs on them, and were woody. The woodiness can be laid to the dry conditions. But the octopus legs are probably the result of a shortage of something in the soil. And the tilth was bad. The dirt was more like concrete than dirt.

We did get some sweet potatoes though. And a few ears of corn. And the amaranth did really well. The little birds found it scrumptious! Unfortunately, they found it so before we even knew it was ready to harvest.

So to “amend” our garden spot – we used the old noodle. When you have cows, you have a natural source of fertilizer. You can do as was suggested to me by The Boss (my wife) and go around with a tub gathering these jewels of scattered brown gold, carry them to the garden and liberally spread them around then rototill them in… OR you can open the garden gate and let the cows into the garden. Then they will do what they do best… eat weeds and save you the trouble of wandering around picking their deposits up and etc.

Since the garden also needs potassium, and since an excellent source of that can be found in chicken poop, you can scoop it up and spread it, as with the cow stuff… or you can sprinkle a few hands fulls of cracked corn over the garden every morning for a bit, and the chickens will bring the potassium right to the garden for you! Not being overly eager to scoop and sling and gather and spread, that’s what I did.

So now the garden has been cleared, rototilled, and evened out.

In the last two days we got not quite 2.5″ of rain. That will make the “amendments” so far applied begin to biodegrade into useful stuff – nitrogen and potassium. In a couple of weeks, I’ll have to add some straw and some more cow and chicken goodies, then till that in to improve the soil and the straw and improve the “tilth” (Currently our dirt is more like concrete than dirt, we have a clay-like soil, so we need to loosen it up.)

I’m also going around with the lawn mower wagon and a couple of tubs now and picking up the black walnuts… we have quite a few walnut trees, and the sweet ‘taters are “hardening” on the kitchen counters. The corn has been shelled. We’ve had our first frosts and a couple of freezes. which makes it time to get the chain saw in gear and start cutting next winter’s fire wood. I have about 3 cords cut and cured for this winter… and have about the same amount to get cut, split & stacked for next year.

It’s a busy time of year.



Leave a Comment
  1. Anonymous / Oct 14 2012 18:37

    Great post, I was told that leaving the trash in the gardens, (flower and vege) that it would provide cover and some food source for the small wild anamials that frequent our place. I do enjoy the small wild life, but not enough to put up with additional bugs and other pests next year. Thanks for the info MM.

    • Michael E Picray / Oct 16 2012 18:34

      I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but you should also either put your soil amendments on in the fall, or early in the spring as the things like manure that break down into nitrogen need time to do so. The microbes that eat the grass and leaves and such take time, and while they are eating the new material, the nitrogen is not available for any plants or seeds you plant in the spring. If you’ve ever put stuff on just before you plant, that’s why the plants may not do well for a while – or develop yellow leaves. And coffee grounds make good nitrogen too if applied well in advance of garden season – so if you’re a coffee drinker, don’t waste those grounds!!! 🙂

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