...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another Garden's Swansong

We finally did it. We just had a full week of beautiful Indian Summer after the first couple of nights of hard freezes--making both timing and temperature perfect for a day of fall tilling. Garden Helper Senior (the one who gave me those dozen roses last week) got the tiller ready and together we tilled everything but the garlic patch and a short row of still-lively lettuce. I had never done a fall tilling before this year. Only spring. In the fall, I've always just thrown a little hay down and let the bed drift into hibernation, but my soil is getting tired enough that this year we decided to till in a few bags of fertilizer, some summer plant left-overs--mostly marigolds, herbs and bean plants--and a little shredded newspaper. Soon, I'll take a soil sample to be tested. I need to know what to save over the winter: whether it be wood ash from the fireplace or egg shells and coffee grounds from the kitchen. In a small suburban plot like mine, crop rotation is a help but rarely is it alone sufficient to keep the soil nutrient-rich. You have to supplement or accept smaller and smaller yields as the years go by.

I've included a couple of nice links on this topic. After roto-tilling my arms are too tired to type a summary so I figure you might as well read the original. The first one details the reasons why you might like to do an autumn-tilling along with me.

This second one is a nice link to a site that helps you plan your future garden rotations online. Spring may seem like a good time to do this; but if you just tilled up this year's garden, then this year's layout is still fresh in your mind which can aid you in your planning.


As usual, I pause to take a deep breath as I stand in the middle of the garden plot in the early evening, and I smell virgin soil--come full circle. The last time it had no aromatic competition from the plant life was last April.
And even now, as the sun sets, I catch a whiff of wood smoke from some neighborhood fireplace. I reach down and grab a handful of dirt. Still a fine texture.

There's promise in that soil for another year.

Happy tilling!

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