Updated: Feb 16, 2022
There are five really important things I do every fall that make my life so easy in the early spring. Spring is the busiest time here at the farm. Planting, planning, cleaning, and preparing for summer. Also, where we live, it is the best time to hatch eggs or adopt new chicks. Since it is so busy, anything that can be done to prepare beforehand is so helpful!
Put Tarps Over All Garden Beds
After the first few frosts have happened and it is clear that your plants are dying, rip them out or throw them in your compost and place tarps over all of your garden areas. tarps are basically my favorite garden tool. We separate each of our garden beds by tarps and lay bricks in the corners. The tarps do two things. They compost the remaining plants and plant matter into nutritious soil and they also keep unwanted plants from growing. This is great in the early spring when things start growing but it is too early to plant some of your less hardy plant babies.
Plant Trees and Shrubs
Spring and Fall are the best seasons for perennial planting. However, if you live in an area that tends to have weeks of no rain, unless you constantly water throughout the summer, for most perennials, Fall planting is better for success. Shrubs are especially more successful when planted in the fall. I planted boxwood in the late fall and did not lose a single one. However, similarly, when planting any shrub in the spring, I tend to lose plants in the dry heat of summer.
It is absolutely essential to plant garlic in the fall. There are so many fun varieties of garlic. We grow about nine different types. We dig them up in July and replant what we do not use or was a little too small for our liking, in the late fall. Garlic can be planted in singular cloves. Each clove will grow into a new bulb of garlic that you can pick in the following summer.
Start a Winter Compost
If you do not have a compost already, now is the time to start! Since I began composting, I have six foot tomato plants, broccoli bushes, and have never had to buy any soil or nutrients at all. I compost basically everything. Egg shells, grass clippings, food scraps, animal manure, leaves in the fall, and so much more. There are so many great ways to compost. Check back next week for my thorough post about composting. There is so much that goes into it and so many different methods I have tried and continue to try. I am always learning and trying new things.
Leaves are the hands down most important aspect of my operation. They save me so much time and so much money. Every year, we use a lawn sweeper to collect all of the leaves. We divide them up. Some go into a compost pile and the rest we fill the raise beds or the garden with. Then once we fill the beds and the gardens, we go to our tarp phase. I have the greatest success at planting in leaves whether they have been composted completely, partially composted or just fresh leaves in the spring that were leftover from the fall. Collecting and using leaves in my garden saves me every year.
In the fall, things slow down and we begin to prepare for all of those indoor projects we
have put off all year when we wanted to be outside. However, as a homesteader, there are many things you can do as it cools off to make life easier when those busy gardening seasons begin. What are your fall rituals?