This means getting the last plants in the ground (gotta get that garlic planted), getting all the potatoes out of the ground and safely stored away, setting up row covers to protect the frost sensitive plants, and cleaning up the huge messes I made during my summer frenzy.
Among the messes are items strewn about (row cover, posts not needed for the fence, stakes, bits of cardboard, discarded vegetables), hoops, drip tape (a component of the irrigation system), weedy areas that need to be managed somehow, and areas that were planted into this season that need to be cleaned up.
To clean up the areas that were planted into this year, the crop debris needs to be removed or tilled in. Doing this decreases the likelihood of plant pathogens and pests surviving the winter to haunt us next season. After that is accomplished, a cover crop will be planted to protect the soil during the winter months and, because I plan to give the area the next season off, to protect and add to the soil through the next growing season.Hopefully this goes better than my clover cover crop adventure this spring.
Cover crops can offer a variety of benefits based on which type is selected. One big reason to plant a cover crop is to decrease weed pressure for crops planted in the area after the cover crop is removed. I did not succeed in doing this with the clover this spring, but hopefully I can learn from this and do a better job this fall. Another benefit of clover is that it adds nutrients to the soil. Many species in the bean family, including clover, are able to add nitrogen to the soil. I will definitely be planting some more clover this fall (I certainly got enough seed!!), along with another to-be-determined cover. My decision will be weighted by availability, prices, and benefits.
And while all this happens, I will continue struggling to keep my head in the game. My mind keeps drifting into the future, thinking about what I will do differently and how it will save me some of the labor that I must endure now. I must live the errors of my planning. I suspect this will happen every year.
Get ready for those green greens!!! Arugula, tatsoi, and mizuna are back! Right along with some delicious radishes!