Cleaning out the 2020 gardens is not my favorite homestead chore this Fall. In fact, this year I wasn’t sure it was even going to happen. I was worried we were not going to get to it until Spring 2021 and that would have been a disaster!
how many gardens do we have
When I talk about gardens, we don’t just have one small garden. We have several. Our Market Gardens are 90ft by 40ft and there are three of them. We also have the two kitchen gardens. One is 30ft by 20ft and the other one is 30ft by 15ft. We have a 45ft by 4ft Strawberry patch, 30 blueberry plants and 20 Raspberry plants. So cleaning out the gardens is a very large chore.
learning not to stress
The first thing we do is pull up any old plants that are left in the gardens. Any large weeds, especially any weeds that have seeds on them. I put old plants in our compost pile and the weeds with seeds go in the trash bin. The least amount of weeds we allow to grow the better. This process takes days for us. I am a bit more detail oriented with the Kitchen Gardens than I am with the Market Gardens.
I have worked extremely hard over the years to keep the weeds to a minimum in the Kitchen Gardens. This is only year two with the Market Gardens and the weeds got away from me this season. I will pay for the lack of attention next year when all of the seeds sprout. But this year I decided that I was not going to stress about it. The picture below is my disaster of a Market Garden pumpkin patch. Cringe worthy, I know!
Where do we start with cleaning out the 2020 Gardens
We start at the Market Gardens. For these gardens, we do utilize a drip irrigation system to water. The first thing we do after we have cleaned out the old plants, is to pull up all of the irrigation system. We want to make sure we find all of the ground staples that we use to hold the irrigation hoses in place. We definitely do not want to leave any in the ground to be hit by the tiller blades.
Spreading the gypsum
After cleaning out the 2020 gardens and before I move on, I make one last sweep to make sure everything is picked up, then we spread the Gypsum. We have used Gypsum for the first time last year and noticed a significant difference in our Raspberry bushes and the health of our plants. So we got another round this year. Gypsum is a white, powdery soft Sulfate mineral. It is spread in the Fall and left in the ground to break down in the soil. To learn more about Gypsum and soil health, click HERE.
My husband works in the berry industry and the berry farms order it by the tons from the company he works for and they put it on all of their fields. Last year, we were able to borrow a specific spreader we pulled behind our tractor to spread the Gypsum.
This year they were all rented out and he spent the day spreading it by the shovelful. It took him the entire day to get the Market Gardens done. He did the Kitchen Gardens the next day.
time to till the soil
After he got the Gypsum spread over the gardens pretty evenly, it was time to get the tractor out and till the soil. Luckily, the ground wasn’t too wet and we were able to use the tractor, otherwise, we would have had to use the small tiller. After shoveling the Gypsum for two days straight, the last thing he wanted to do was use the small tiller that would have taken at least double the time.
Now, we can say goodbye to the 2020 gardens and let the soil rest over winter. As of right now, we do not plant cover crops. I do have plans to research and possibly add cover crops in the future.
learning to go with the seasons
For me personally, I really need the break that winter provides. It gives me a time to slow down and rest. A time to concentrate on other projects and I always look forward to working a bit in the house without feeling guilty that I am not outside. But, I am already finding myself wanting to order the seeds for the 2021 gardens. Luckily, the new seed catalogs have not arrived. They will not be here until December. So, I am forced to be patient and wait,
For now I am going to follow the season that is here currently, and get into celebrating the holidays instead of worrying about the gardens. Gardening season will be here before I know it. Plus, I still have 9 gallons of tomatoes in the freezer that I need to cook down into sauce before I even think of another gardening season!
The little lace cottage farmstand
To find out what we do with all of the extra produce we grow on our homestead, click HERE to learn all about our Farmstand.