Fall Garden FAQs

  1. When should I harvest my squash?

    1. If the plant has died from powdery mildew, or random causes, then pull those squash off.  You are not a terrible gardener if you only have 1-2 squash per plant, but it is worth examining the reasons behind your low yields.  Were you supplying enough sunlight and water?  Squash needs lots of these.  Was the soil good and rich, full of worms and happy bacteria?  Squash are heavy feeders so consider where you will plant them next season.  Yes, you can nurse a volunteer plant that sprouts in the compost, but remember that squash cross-pollinate.  So you better like zumpkins or acornnut squash.  If the plant is green and healthy, leave the squash on to mature. The skin will harden and the fruit will finish turning colour.  Before the first frost pull them off and let them “cure” in a warm room, we put ours in partially sunny windowsill and it seems to work well.  Then eat or store in a cool dark place.
  2. When do I plant Garlic?

    1. Garlic is to be planted 4-6 weeks before the first frost.  So anytime between now and the end of October is probably best.  I had great success with garlic this season because I added manure when I planted it last season, and I mulched it with leaves.  Like I’m talking first place at the fall fair success.  Plant the clove with one layer of papery husk on and pointy end up.
  3. What should I add to my soil in the fall?

    1. Anything you can get your hands on that’s nutritious for the soil ie. manure, compost, alpaca poop.  If you can’t get any of these things, hate buying it in bags….or feel ridiculous buying poop straight up, then you could plant a nitrogen fixing crop/cover crop like beans, alfalfa, clover, peas, etc.  I plant leftover pea and bean seeds anytime I remove dead or done plant material so that I beat the weeds to it and hopefully improve soil quality.
  4. I’ve given up…..it’s over run.  Can I wait till the winter kills everything and start fresh in the spring?

    1. Well….yes I suppose so.  However if you have plants that were infected with blight or powdery mildew, it’s best to pull them out of there so that you don’t let the fungus overwinter in the soil to get you again next season.  That being said, I was meticulous about removing all blight material from the soil last season and did it hit my tomatoes and potatoes again this season?  With a vengence.
  5. How do I save seeds? Is it worth it?

    1. Here are the seeds that I always save (a very non-exhaustive list):
      1. Beans
      2. Peas
      3. Lettuce
      4. Swiss Chard
      5. Flowers
      6. Garlic
    2. Here are the seeds that cross pollinate so I only recommend saving them if you only planted one variety of this veg/fruit (also very non-exhaustive):
      1. Squash
      2. Cucumbers
      3. Zucchini
      4. Peppers – I just learned that they cross pollinate this year! (Thanks Mike)
      5. Tomatoes – don’t cross pollinate, but require a little extra work for saving
  6. What should I do if I still have green tomatoes?

    1. Trim away any branches on the tomato plants that are shading your fruit
    2. Fried green tomatoes
    3. Green tomato salsa
    4. Put them on the counter to ripen, or wrapped in newspaper or paper bags
  7. What should I plan for next year?

    1. Consider where you planted everything and how you will rotate your crops next season.  Consider what went well in your garden, and what didn’t and when it’s time to stop trying to grow something that just won’t grow.  I am already deciding where potatoes, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers will go next season because they are heavy feeders and I try to give them a patch that didn’t have a heavy feeder in it the year before (ie. where beans, carrots, greens, or peas were growing).  If your garden is partly shady and the only thing that did well was lettuce, then stick with greens, they love the shade and trade someone with a sunny garden for produce that
    2. Plan to add manure or compost to increase soil nutrition in the fall and in the spring.  See if you can source it without buying tons of single use plastic bags.
    3. Consider mulching for the winter to suppress spring weed growth – grass clippings, leaves, even cardboard or weighted newspaper.  Sometimes if you get cattle manure from a farmer (preferably an organic farmer) it has so much undigested grass in it that it acts like a mulch.

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