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October 3, 2008

The Fall Garden

Fall is not the vegetable garden's most beautiful hour. I'd bet many gardeners wouldn't dare post photos of the messiness of the end of the season. But I love it in all its over-grown, jumbled craziness. I actually leave my garden standing throughout winter and clean it all up in spring, when I'm itching to start it all over again. I love the winter interest of the garden covered in snow. The sunflower is very important to the winter birds. I see Goldfinches on it year 'round!

Fall is also when gardeners reflect on what they did wrong and what they did right. So here are my "Lessons Learned"
1. Don't grow it if you won't eat it (unless it's really pretty). For our family that means turnips, cucumbers and cabbage. The space would have been better used for spinach, lettuce, peas and beans.
2. Our family can't have enough of: peas, beans, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, lettuce. Grow more!
3. Plant outside earlier. I always like to start seeds indoors, but honestly they never do well once transplanted. This year I planted everything from seed directly into the garden and I had great success. I could have been more successful had I planted earlier (I'm still harvesting my first ripe tomatoes - it's October in Wisconsin! way too late...) I have raised beds so next year I will experiment with plastic sheets of some sort pulled across the top of the beds.
6. Thin your seedlings! Ugh, no more itsy-bitsy carrots and radishes!
7. Reseed the lettuce and spinach after harvesting.
8. Harvest the broccoli before it flowers! (although the flowers are really pretty)

And my "I'm so proud of you" list:
1. Gourds - really hard to grow and I have a bumper crop!
2. Tomatillos - but they grow like weeds in my yard, so nothing to be proud of except that I was able to reign them in a bit
3. Corn - I managed to harvest 2 ears, but they look so dramatic in the garden!
4. Square Foot Gardening - it's not a gimmick, it really works, although next year I will plan better.

I can't wait for next year!

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