Colder weather means it’s time to put your garden to bed. As you harvest the last of your gardens it’s time to start thinking about next year. By putting in the prep during the fall you can get a jump start on the next year’s gardening without as much work. It’s also a good idea to get ready for the colder weather for your livestock, and your own home as well!
Put Your Garden To Bed
Depending on what zone you are in, you may still be harvesting vegetables. Some even taste better if you wait until after frost, such as kale. If you are leaving some in the ground for after frost such as kale, carrots, turnips, or other root vegetables, go ahead and mulch them to help them stay warm, and protect your soil from becoming eroded. There are actually quite a few frost-tolerant plants that don’t mind being chilly.
This is also a good time to finish up an canning or processing that you didn’t get to during the summer. I love the suggestion from 104 Homestead to freeze whole tomatoes and save them for canning later. With this method you can save the hot work for making tomato sauce for a colder day instead of the heat of summer. Now is also the time to harvest your potatoes.
Trim and Feed
It’s time to cut back plants such as roses, raspberries, asparagus, or trim your fruit trees. Make sure to pick up any fallen fruit to prevent disease (the chickens will love to eat it), and any spraying or whitewashing you need to do in your orchard. It’s also a good time to dig up and replant plants such as irises, shasta daisies, daylilies, or horseradish. While you are trimming is a good time to add a layer of compost over your perennials and garden beds.
This is a great time to empty out that compost bin and make space for all your scraps over winter and rake up leaves to be added to compost. Leaves are a great way to build up your soil. Make sure to start cleaning up any debris around the yard, garden, or barn areas as well. You can even use old vines and things to make a cute fall themed wreath.
Last Minute Planting
It may be time to put the garden to bed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plant a few things. Fall is the best time to plant garlic. It’s also time to plant bulbs for the spring flowers. I love the dandelions that pop up every year! Depending on your area it may also be time to plant fruit trees or some bushes. If you set up a few season extenders you may even be able to extend the vegetables into winter. Here’s how to make a hoop house, and here are several options for season extenders.
In season extenders you can plant short season and cold loving crops such as lettuces, kale, peas, and radishes. Some gardeners are even able to grow carrots year round! Any garden beds that won’t be used over the winter need to be mulched or planted with a cover crop. Even if all season gardening isn’t for you, this is a good time to try sprouting, growing microgreens, or an indoor salad bowl.
Plan for Spring
Now is a good time to take an inventory of what seeds you have on hand and what will need to be ordered for next year. You can review how the garden went this year and any changes you may want to make. The Gardening Notebook is a good tool to help keep track of all of your notes throughout the year. If you think you might want more raised beds fall is the best time to build and prepare them.
Put Your Homestead To Bed
Check Your Tools
It’s a good time to clean out wherever you store your tools, such as your barn, shed or garage and take an inventory of them. Are there any tools you ended up not needing that could be passed on? Are there tools you need to budget for in the upcoming year? Take some time to clean, sharpen, and repair the tools you do have.
Winterize Your Home
Check for drafts in your home and put up storm windows or window insulation where needed. All of our windows have storm windows except for one. We use this insulation kit on it, and it makes a big difference in how drafty the living room feels. You can also replace weatherstripping around doors, (like this kind). A couple years ago we took a few little cans of spray insulation to anywhere we could feel a draft and even though it took some time it made a HUGE difference in how warm our older house feels. If you haven’t yet, do a basic maintenance check on your wood stove or furnace, and get your firewood split, stacked, and under cover.
Winterize Your Livestock
It’s a good idea to check your chicken coops, rabbit housing, and barn areas for drafts and leaks. Patch those up now! Right after a deep clean of your chicken coop is a good time to do it. Keep an eye out for molting chickens, and give them a little extra protein to get through their molt quickly. Any birds that go on and on with a molt are good candidates for the stew pot. Fall is the traditional time to cull livestock. Pets, (aka anything the children named) all can have a stay out of the freezer card.
But other than that keep your breeding stock for next year and downsize so you aren’t feeding a horde of slackers all winter. Get ready for ice too! Drain and bring inside any hoses you won’t be using, and winterize the ones you do need. Pull out a heated waterer, or any other type of waterers you use to keep water liquid in freezing weather. (I like rubber tubs for the chickens, ducks, and goats, and tuna cans for the rabbits). If you need tips on caring for your animals in cold weather check out some tips for rabbits, goats, and chickens.
How do you put YOUR garden to bed?
Spending a little bit of time in the fall to prepare for winter makes the super cold weather much easier to deal with. By prepping your gardens now you can get a jump start on spring and have healthy well nourished soil throughout the growing season.
We all live in different climates. Are there any essential fall chores that must happen on your homestead?
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