|Â October 2008Â
|Â Dear Reader,I thought I was going to relax this month — no way!Â The weather is cool and clear with bright sunshine, perfect for both harvesting and planting.Â I keep the solar dryer (see last month’s newsletter)Â supplied with apples, peaches, plumbs and bananas (not exactly local) as well as lots of tomatoes.Â Â Last week, I was able to obtain a grass-fed free-range organic lamb.Â That had to be hung, butchered and packed for the freezer.Â Then the woodstove chimney had to be cleaned.
We always have our first frost in October, so the greenhouses need to be winterized, packed with barrels of water and mulched to the full.Â Maxi mulching is the topic of my article this month, based on interviews with one of the Bounder gardening group, Barbara Miller.Â She takes mulching very seriously and gets amazing produce as a result.
With the cost of food rising and the economic crisis, there is a growing movement toward growing your own vegetables.Â The price of seeds is set to rise by up to 40% for many agricultural varieties as the big companies such as Montsanto find their bottom line affected.Â If you can, start saving seeds for next year.Â Make sure any you have left over from last season are dry, packed in labeled small zip lock bags and put in the freezer.Â In next month’s article, I will address seed saving and preserving.
Have an most enjoyable Halloween, hopefully eating the wonderful produce from your garden.
Fall Garden Tasks
These are the same tasks as last month!Â I am sure you still have lots to do.Keep making lots of compost from all the garden waste.Â Grind material as small as possible so it with break down before the cold weather.Â Gather materials for winter mulch (see below).Â Â Winterize your greenhouseÂ and keep row covers and plant protectors close by in case of hail or early frost.
Seeds outdoors:Â see article below.Â Â Sow cover crop of annual rye, clover, buckwheat or alfalfa.Â Plant garlic cloves: mulch as soon as planted.
|Maxi Mulch your Garden
October is mulching month.Â Nature leads the way by supplying us with copious amounts of garden waste and, of course, leaves.Â Leaves are one of the secrets of long-term soil fertility and no one I know uses them more productively than Barbara Miller.Barbara is a proponent of the “no-dig” school of organic gardening.Â Throughout the growing season she gathers all sorts of organic material to add to her garden beds and paths.Â After ten years of mulching with little or no soil disturbance, Barbara has generated over 12 inches of moist crumbly dark humus.
From October onward, Barbara’s mulching really takes off.Â She puts a sign out on her street asking people to donate their plastic bags of dry leaves.Â Last year, over 600 bags of leaves were left outside her door.Â She takes the plastic bags and tightly packs and layers them on specific parts of her garden, without emptying the contents.Â As Barbara puts it, “When I say mulch, I mean layers of bags two or more feet deep.”
She pays particular attention to roots crops planted in late spring – potatoes, rutabaga, turnips, carrots, celeriac, parsnips and beets.Â When the plant leaves die back, she covers the roots with the insulating bags.Â The bags create a virtual root cellar in which the cool soil keeps the roots crisp and fresh; the moderate cold makes sure the veggies taste sweet.Â To harvest her winter carrots for example, she digs through the snow, lifts her bags and pulls the roots straight out of the soft ground.
Her tender perennials are treated in a similar manner.Â Some she insulates where they grow.Â Others she moves from their summer home and buries in the ground on the north side of her garden shed, covered with her favorite leaf bags.Â The bags do double duty, protecting the plants from cold but also making sure the soil does not degrade over the winter.
Keeping soil cool and moist but not frozen helps generate a rich and fertile soil ecology.Â As Barbara says, “When I lift the bags of mulch in the depths of winter, the earthworms are writhing under
Talking to Barbara makes me rethink my meager mulching program.Â I am going to keep an eye out for free organic matter, start scavenging for more bags of leaves and pile that maxi mulch on deep for the winter.Â I am sure my soil will be grateful.
Fall Tip: Apply theÂ Deer DeterrentÂ recipe all around the garden every 3 weeks to train the deer to avoid the garden in winter.
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Care for theÂ soilÂ and care for theÂ EarthÂ withÂ BounteaÂ gardening products.