Fall Garden Tips by Patricia Byrne
Published in Living Natural First Magazine
I have often encouraged readers to learn how to grow some of their food. Even if you do not have a garden in the spring or summer, you can have a fall garden. You might also consider finding or starting a community garden. We are looking at a time when we should all realize how important it is to have a personal or local garden to which we have access.
Pick a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight. If the garden gets morning sun, it reduces the risk of unwanted fungi and bacteria, because the garden will dry faster from the morning dew. Plant rows should be planted east to west. Plants such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash should be planted in the area of the garden that gets the most amount of sun. These are warm temperature plants. Plants that require cooler temperatures and are frost tolerant can be planted later, September or early October. Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, radishes, and spinach are some of the vegetables that need cooler temperatures.
Success of any garden and the quality of the crop depends on the soil in which it is grown. Instead of tilling the soil, I suggest a raised bed. Just frame an area with cedar or other untreated wood, bricks, cinder blocks, or stones. Allow for a soil depth of about 12 inches. It is important to get a soil that is organically rich. Just in case fall and winter are dry, using product that have Diatomaceous Earth with humates mixed in helps with water retention and insect control. This combination should be added at the rate of 6 to 8% of the total soil mix. Minerals are good to add as well. Mix the soil in a wheelbarrow if you have one, but, if not, it is important that the DE and humates be mixed in very well. The soil needs to be loose enough to drain well. The vegetables grown in the soil mix rich in minerals are more beneficial to you. The multitude of trace minerals our bodies need are almost non-existent in food commercially grown. Commercial fields have been planted every year and the minerals have been stripped from the soil. If it isn’t in the soil, it isn’t in the plants grown in that soil.
Healthy plants also do not attract insects. If you have an issue with insects such as ants, grasshoppers, or any other insect still around from the hot summer, use a safe Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect insecticide. This type of insecticide is inexpensive and very safe. If you are doing a raised bed garden or urban balcony/rooftop type, I suggest that a layer of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth about 1/8 inch thick be put down evenly first. Then put the soil mix in. This will deter ants or other insects that attack from the soil from damaging your garden. This will also help with water retention. DE used in this way is not harmful to earthworms. I have used it in gardens for years and had a good earth worm population. Just make sure you never use the DE sold for filtration in swimming pools. It is milled differently and heated, causing the silica to crystallize. That form of DE is dangerous and should not be used in a garden. It is also ineffective as an insecticide. Buy your DE insecticide labeled for that purpose at a garden center.
Support your local farmers by going to farmers markets that truly sell locally-grown food. Almost everywhere there is a market close to you. Some farmers markets may only one or two days a week. It may cost a little more for some items, but not for most of your vegetables. The point is, if there is ever a disruption of the commercial farmers getting their food to the grocery stores, we need to know there are local growers to feed us. Help keep those growers going by buying from them now. You may be very glad in the future that you did. We do not have control over drought conditions. It is much easier to control the environment on a small garden or small farm than a big commercial farm. Support your local growers. The food has more vitality and is much fresher.