Putting the Gardens to Bed

Autumn is a great time to review plans for next summer's garden. I'll be busily drawing out garden plots and ordering seeds in the winter months, but this time of year the events of the past summer are still fresh and it's a good idea to note any places for improvement in the garden and on the farm.

The majority of the crops we grew this year thrived, some to my surprise. I did not put a lot of effort into the soil of our new garden, but the area we selected for the beds was where generations had kept a kitchen garden before us. Because of this I think the earth was full of nutrients from many applications of manure. This was the first garden we put in at the new house, and I just wanted to get some vegetables in the ground.

While we were rewarded with rich earth this year, for next season we will be supplementing with some fresh organic matter so that the soil stays strong. I do credit the quality of the dirt with the bountiful harvests we were able to bring in, especially the many pumpkins we plucked from the vines this year.

Corn was our one real failure this season, we only brought in a few ears. Next year we'll plant in several short rows, instead of one long row, to encourage pollination.

As of mid-October of 2017, we're back in a noticeable drought in our area of Maine. The summer was moderate, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s, but little rain. August and September passed with barely a drop, and once again our spring's reservoir was dry. The fact this is happening for the second year means we should expect weather patterns like this again, so adding a pond and a drilled well to our farm will be priorities.

The size of the new garden was nice, and I found myself growing a lot of some familiar vegetables because I had room to expand. Unless we start a CSA or farm stand, there's no reason to plant nine zucchini and summer squash plants again - there is simply no keeping up. Instead, next year, I'd like to grow smaller numbers of some more unique plants, ones I have not grown before. On the short list are kohlrabi, fennel, leeks, and melons. After all, ask any gardener - there is always a new plant that they'd like to try growing!

I have put off adding an herb garden to this property as we wait for the house project to be finished. Next summer will be busy with home-building and I look forward to spending a lot of next fall digging out herb beds and planting bulbs and perennials. I want to keep most of those types of medicinal and kitchen herbs around the house in beds, so they are easy to access from my kitchen.

It will be fun laying out garden plots on paper this winter and making lists of seedlings to order, but I cannot wait to get my hands in the dirt again this spring.

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