A look at the garden – first week of fall!

Our garden is starting to wind down. A couple of frosts this past weekend spelled the end of the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, cucumbers, and basil for the season. I’m honestly sad to see it end. This was the best garden we’ve had in a few years, and thanks to the new raised beds we built and installed, this year’s garden was an absolute pleasure to work in.

I still have quite a few tomatoes to can, and we harvested all of the green tomatoes before our frost. I’ll be making green tomato relish or green tomato mincemeat (which I hadn’t heard of before, but someone on Twitter told me about it and it sounded amazing) with most of those this week. Boxes and baskets of tomatoes have overtaken our kitchen counters, and it’ll be wonderful to have it all put up for winter.

I figured a little tour of the garden was in order on this lovely first week of fall in northern Michigan.

These raised beds were all put in this spring. The three closest to the camera will be covered with low tunnels and greenhouse plastic so we can keep the kale going for as long as possible. The rest of the beds were full of tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, and beans just a week or so ago.

If you have cats, those kitty litter buckets come in very handy in the garden. We use them to collect weeds when we’re working in the garden, as well as for moving small amounts of mulch to wherever we need it.

Squirrels and chipmunks ate most of the sunflower seeds we sowed, but a few managed to survive and are blooming now. They add a nice bit of cheer and color to the garden.

The raised beds we’ve cleaned out just received a sowing of winter wheat, a cover crop that we can turn under in the spring when we’re ready to plant.

The flower garden along the back fence flanks the main vegetable garden path, and it brought me so much joy all summer, seeing the coneflowers, zinnias, and cosmos spilling out onto the path. The annuals’ season was brought to an end by the frost, but the perennials are still going strong. I need to do quite a bit of cleanup in this bed. The weeds got away from me a bit, and I want to give the whole thing a nice topdressing of chopped fall leaves when we start collecting them in a few weeks.

We’re revamping the greenhouse, adding structure and putting new greenhouse plastic over the whole thing. There’s not much going on in here — a few Dwarf Curled kale plants that the bunnies at almost down to nothing, but they’re resprouting now and we’ll see if we get anything out of them. The mache also self-sowed quite a bit, and there are tiny mache seedlings all over one side of the greenhouse. If we get a few of those to decent size, I definitely won’t complain! Mostly, we’re prepping this now so it’ll be ready to go in the spring, both for hardening off seedlings and for giving us a jumpstart on our season.

These are our original vegetable garden beds. The one on the right has become our berry patch, complete with two varieties of strawberries, a couple of raspberry bushes, a blueberry bush, and a couple elderberries. I’m guessing the elderberries might eventually get too big for this space, but I’m planning to propagate them to start more elderberries elsewhere in the garden, where they’ll have more room to spread. For now, we’ll just see how these do — I got them a couple years ago as rooted cuttings and they didn’t do much in their old spot, so I was thrilled and surprised when they took off so well this year.

The other two long beds (on the left) are going to be very different next year. This year, the bed closest to me was full of paste tomatoes and pole beans. The bed behind it has a few mint plants that need to be moved, and the rest of it is empty other than a few tiny oak trees I grew from acorns. All of that needs to come out, because next year, these two beds will be for corn and sunflowers. And maybe pole beans, if I want to let them ramble up the corn stalks. 

There’s still quite a bit to do, including getting the beds weeded and edged one more time this year, cleaning out those long vegetable beds, and giving everything a nice layer of chopped fall leaves. If I’m really motivated (and I plan to be, but who knows!) the herb garden expansion will also happen this fall so we don’t have to mess around with that next spring when we’ll be busy with seed sowing and getting everything up and running.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of our garden. Thanks for stopping by!

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