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During the Spring and Summer months, we were busy with planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, weeding, irrigating, weeding again, thinning, more weeding and finally harvesting vegetables and fruits.
Our Vegetable and Berry Gardens have given us a fantastic harvest, even though the weather this year was mostly cool and quite rainy. Sure we had two or three weeks of Summer, but gorgeous hot sunny days would be followed quickly by cooling temperatures and even more rain. We were on the other side of the pressure system that brought so much heat and drought to other areas of Canada and the USA.
With our native soil being clay (and I mean heavy clay, clods of clay) we need to continually be amending the Gardens with things like compost, manure, leaves etc. Most Gardeners have a compost pile, but we don’t have one.
Usually these pigs take the place of a compost pile. Where other Gardeners throw all the lawn trimmings, kitchen waste, vegetable plant trimmings, etc onto their Compost, we normally just toss it in for our pigs. They love almost everything we bring them and we will get the goodness returned to us by adding the pig manure to our large manure pile.
We have access to horse manure and lots of it – friends here in the Valley have several horses and they are always willing to have us take away manure from their pile. As the Garden year progresses and vegetables are harvested, sometimes we will plant another vegetable in its place.
Peas, for instance, usually don’t carry on setting pods throughout the whole Summer here. So when they are finished, we pull them and plant some more Broccoli or even Radishes in place of the Peas.
At some point, we stop with planting new rows and instead start putting a nice thick layer of manure on the row. If we do this is mid-Summer, we use only well composted manure (it has been sitting in our pile for at least 3 months).
At the end of the Gardening season, once the vegetables have been harvested, we really start loading the horse biscuits onto the Garden. As we get an area done, I grab container of Fall Rye and liberally seed it on top of the Manure.
Then, I rake it in, it doesn’t have to be a perfect job but raking it in will ensure that the seed has made contact with the “soil”. As Autumn progresses and the leaves start to fall from the trees, we rake them up and add them to the Garden as well.
Buckwheat is also used in our Gardens – we love to use Buckwheat as a mid season soil amendment because it grows and matures so quickly. However, because Buckwheat does not tolerate frost well, we cannot use it to its full potential in the Fall.
There is really no possibility of “too much of a good thing” here – the more amendments you can add, the more your soil will improve. Unfortunately, this is not a one time thing (wouldn’t that be great!).
It is a part of the yearly process of trying to improve the Garden soil. Feeding your soil needs to be part of the ongoing process of Gardening. During the growing season, use well composted manure to side dress and top dress your vegetables.
And feeding your soil pays off – amend your soil this year and you will see the improvement next year. Then, repeat next year and reap the benefits the year after that.
If you have Perennial Vegetables and Fruits growing, give these areas a thorough weeding in early Fall. Then, add a nice thick layer of well composted manure all around these plants. They will benefit greatly for the added attention and your Harvest should be better the following year.
If you have Raspberry Canes growing, be sure to get in that patch now and cut this years fruiting wood down to the ground. This will clean up your patch, get rid of any dead wood and you will get many new suckers come Spring. This year’s new suckers will bear net years fruit – a good thing to keep in mind!
If you use Row Covers in the garden, now is the time to remove them. Clean them first before putting them away. I use clothespins to attach the Row Covers to the perimeter Garden fence and then hose them down really well. Leave them for half hour or so to dry, then I fold them and bring them in the house for the Winter. Taking care of items like these will ensure they will last years longer!
So get started on getting your Gardens ready for their Winter rest. Just as we rest from Gardening during the Winter, our Gardens deserve to rest as well. Enrich the soil by adding compost, leaves and whatever else you can find and then let the snow cover insulate the area. Your Garden will be happier next year because of the work you put in this Fall.
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