Putting the Garden to Bed

Garlic Beds

Here we are in mid October and things are finally winding down in the garden. The Garlic is planted, those beds are mulched with old hay and the tools are getting picked up.

 

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Half of the main garden has now been taken over by Garlic. If you want to learn more about how to grow and harvest Garlic, check out our 4 part series. Once the area was given a good end-of-year weeding, I raked the area into raised beds. Jaime and I added a LOT of well composted manure; she has pushed a lot of wheelbarrows! I’m so appreciative of all her help this year.

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Once the upper left part of the garden was cleared out and weeded, I scattered Fall Rye seed. This will become a cover crop and in turn will act as a green manure to help amend the soil. Sometimes I used Buckwheat, especially in the late summer. Buckwheat doesn’t need much time to grow, so if you have a free area and 30 days of growing time left in the season, try Buckwheat.

For mid Fall into the early Spring, I like to cover with Fall Rye. If we till the garden in the Spring, this just gets tilled in. If you want to learn more about green manure (cover cropping) click on the link.

You can see the Asparagus patch on the far left. We pick Asparagus freely here until the end of the first week in July, and then we leave it alone. The stalks grow and turn into fronds, starting to yellow in late summer. Some people cut the stalks down in Fall, but we leave ours alone and do the cutting in the Spring. Those fronds will add a bit of protection to the roots below the surface. Before the snow flies, I’ll mulch the Asparagus with old spent hay to add further protection. This will get removed in the Spring and the Asparagus will grow again.

 

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The leaves are gone now from most of the trees; Fall is slowly turning to Winter here in the Cariboo. We haven’t had snow yet; thank goodness. Hopefully that won’t happen for awhile, but you never know. Now is the time to finish outdoor homestead projects and make sure things are cleaned up and put away.

I still have to mulch the strawberry beds, but I’ll do that when I do the Asparagus. That bare bed in the front of the picture is a small potato patch; planted this Spring, we will leave these in the ground until mid-March or so. It depends on the amount of snow we get, but we are looking forward to a few fresh and delicious potatoes to enjoy in the Spring. Try this sometime; it does work. Just don’t leave them in the ground too long; if you have to, dig them up in February and then put them in your cold room.

We still have to tarp over the Greenhouse, but bit by bit, things are getting cleaned up and put away. We are already enjoying the extra rest we’re getting; sleeping in a bit is always the bonus of October.

We still have a bit of Garlic for sale; if you are looking for healthy Organic bulbs to start your own Garlic patch, you can order it here.

 

Harvesting Spinach Seeds

Grow your own Heirloom Seed

Since I grow only heirloom or open pollinated seed, I try to save some of the seeds from this years harvest, so I can have some to plant next year. Saving seed is quite easy to do and it saves a lot of money. It also gives me a feeling of security knowing that I have viable seeds for the following year and don’t have to rely on ordering them.

Here’s a few pictures of how I harvest Spinach seeds. The theory works the same for pretty much any leaf crop.

IMG 2867 225x300 Harvesting Spinach Seeds

When you harvest your Spinach, be sure to leave a few plants alone and just let them grow. If you can, pick your healthiest best looking ones so that you will have the healthiest best seed for next year.

 

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As the season carries on, those Spinach plants will get larger and larger and then start sending up flower stalks from the middle of the plant. Just leave them be and sit back and enjoy the flowers.

 

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Let the flowers dry on the stalks and eventually you should see seeds setting. Once they are dry (or mostly dry) then carefully snip the stalks and put them into a paper bag large enough to fit all the stalks.  Tie a string around the bag and hang it up or set it out of the way. Now leave it alone!

 

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After a few weeks, you can thresh out your seeds. An easy way to do this is to reach inside the bag, grab a stalk and then move your hand down the stalk, removing everything which will then fall to the bottom of the bag. You can see the threshed stalks in the picture; there’s nothing left on them.

 

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Here you can easily see all the seed. The leaves have withered to almost nothing, but there are a lot of seeds on that little portion of stalk. Save them all for next year.

 

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Just one handful of seed that has been saved to use next year.

 

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A bowlful! All I need to do is separate those leaves from the seeds. An easy way to do that is to stand on the porch with a breeze going and pour the seed from one bowl to another, letting the breeze catch those leaves. The seeds are heavier so they will fall into the lower bowl. After that, I can put them in an envelope and save them in a cool dark place.