This picture was taken by my husband when he went out to interview in mid-August. I think it was freshly mowed and looking its best because they were trying to impress my husband and convince him that he wanted the job. As far as I can tell, this mowing job is the only thing that has been done in the garden (besides occasional fruit harvesting) in the past... 5 years? Maybe just 3 years (the tenure of the previous tenants), stuff grows so fast out here it's hard to tell.
Anyway, the garden has a ton of potential, but a long, long way to go before it is up to snuff.
Generally, this time of year in Colorado, we are starting to get hard frosts every night, thinking about snow, and generally hunkering down for a long winter. If I were there, I would be harvesting the last of my lettuce from under its protective cover, putting the heat lamp back in the chicken coop for the (frequent) nights when temps dip below 20 F, and getting out the snow shovels.
But here... ah, here I know there are rains a-comin', but I have a ton left to do outdoors to prepare for next spring! In fact, since the temperature here only occasionally dips below freezing, I may have to discard this notion of "waiting for the next growing season."
Here are some of the key items on my fall garden to-do list
- Begin to destroy Himalayan blackberries (especially the ones that are choking out my nice thornless blackberry)! There are plenty outside the garden... I don't need to keep any alive inside.
- Identify perennials along back fence (the closest fence in the picture). There are all kinds of things in there that may be perennials, may be just wildflowers, it's hard to tell because they're all covered in a layer of those blackberries. My amazing gardening grandparents are coming for a visit soon, and I think they will have a good idea of what to keep and what to toss.
- Mow? What? This is something we never did in the mountains! I am currently browsing Craigslist looking for a non-ancient push-mower, so I can mow while the kids are out in the garden with me without deafening, terrifying, and fuming them out. The grassy area inside the garden is not huge, and I plan to gradually reduce it as I add beds, paths, etc., so I think a push mower would be reasonable in there.
- Harvest remaining prunes
- Harvest apples when ripe
- Harvest pears when ripe
- Harvest grapes when ripe
- Rake orchard area when leaves fall (also something we never really did in Colorado...in fact, I don't think we owned a rake, but it seems like a good idea here).
- Decide where to build beds for vegetables. If I get ambitious, actually start building so I can plant some fall things.
- Dig down under all that mess of grass and see what the soil is like. Will I want to dig down and build in-ground vegetable beds, or skip that whole process and stick to the square-foot gardening I loved in Colorado? Or a combination of both?
- Make the garden a little more kid-friendly. This might seem like a slightly frivolous step, but I don't really have any non-kid-supervising hours to spend out working in the garden. I want the kids to enjoy being in there, not feel like it is a steep, weedy prison (the current feeling). I think getting rid of the thorny stuff and mowing the tickley grass will help a lot to make it a happy place. In the more distant future, I dream of having some little paths (with stepping stones? Oh boy!) through the garden, between beds, so the walk down the hill has more switchbacks, more charm, and less sudden elevation change. Also, once the kids can help dig in the dirt and water things, I think the whole place will grow on them. I also want to implement a few specific kid-friendly areas, like some plants specifically to attract butterflies, some flowers that they have planted themselves, some areas they can water as much as they want, and some kind of little tee-pee-ish structure they can hide and play in.
Whew. That may not seem like a huge list to you (I know, it doesn't involve anything more intense than mowing and raking), but it represents a whole lot of kids-on-a-blanket-in-the-shade-eating-snacks-and-playing-with-toys-so-mommy-can-work hours. Also, since we don't actually own this property (but we do plan to stay a long time), I plan to do this on as miniscule of a budget as humanly possible. Added challenge!
What are your fall outdoor/gardening plans? Did you enjoy helping in the garden as a child, or do you have any good ideas to get my little guys excited about being out there with me? Any thoughts on raised-bed veggie gardens versus in-ground ones?
Posted at Simple Lives Thursday