Toolshed Tips: Fall Activities

Sweet Potato Harvesting in October

By Libby Weiland, Program Coordinator

Your October Tip: The season has arrived when our gardens begin to slow down. As we move indoors for warmth, preserving, and feasting on the bountiful harvest from the last month, let us not forget what remains in the remnants of our fall gardens. How do we transition from the season of abundance to the frostier months? Here are a few fun ideas for winding down the season without closing down the garden:

  • Fall planting: Have a garlic party! This is the time of year for garlic planting. Along with your planting, celebrate all things garlic—from pesto to garlic garlands. Find inspiration on Southern Vermont’s Garlic & Herb Festival website.
  • Continued harvest: The bounty is not over, with frost-tolerant crops (like Brussels sprouts and kale) still on the way! Bring gardeners together in October and into November over crispy Brussels sprouts and kale chips with a movie, music, dance, or other fun cooler weather activities.
  • Season extension: Host a fall season extension workshop at the garden. This could be a part of a fall harvest party or a stand-alone event. You can keep it simple with some basic tips for covering crops with low growing tunnels, host an intermediate workshop on cold frame building from scrap materials, or get ambitious with a hoop house-raising work party/workshop. Find local educators (or knowledgeable gardeners) and business sponsors to help make it all happen.
  • Winter planning: At your fall garden clean-up day, make time to take stock of things that need replacing, repairing, or adding to the garden. One efficient and interactive way to get your list is to split your garden clean-up duties into garden crews that work on different areas/aspects of the garden. Along with clean-up, each “crew” will make note of what’s needed to improve their areas/aspect of the garden. Come together at the end of the work party with lists and, over hot beverages, have a quick brainstorm of ideas for improving the garden for next season. This will give you a place to start with your winter garden planning.
  • Overwintering: If you planted crops this fall that are intended for spring harvest (like carrots or parsnips) or cover crops (like winter rye) to overwinter, consider how can you keep them on the mind in their dormancy. For underground crops, you could put up a sign that says “Shh, carrots sleeping here.” For cover crops that overwinter, create signage that explains the value of cover crops and what’s happening in the soil. These simple additions to your winter garden will not only help gardeners know what to watch for in the spring, but also educate passers-by about the garden year-round.

If your garden has to be tilled under each year think about creative ways to continue to grow. Build cold frames up against the garden shed, set aside a small area at your garden’s entrance for perennial or long-season crops to promote vibrancy year-round. Whatever you do, it should be fun; take the time to enjoy and celebrate all of the hard work you put in this season!

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