October | Getting The Most Out of Your Garden

October | Getting The Most Out of Your Garden

November 07, 2020

Fall is the perfect time to think about maintenance! By taking small steps, it will ensure that you get the most out of your garden for the next season.

Photography By Kelly Savoca

We are still harvesting tomatoes and peppers right now but beyond that, we opted to keep fall simple so that we can focus on our soil. While we had many things grow and fruit from our edible garden some things did not grow well and some that grew very slowly. I’ve learned that some of the best things you can do to maintain your garden are to take small steps to do clean up and maintenance. Check out what we did in October:


Cleaned Bed 1 & Planted a Cover Crop
No matter how small your garden might be this is a great way to replenish your soil. Cover crops are an alternative to tilling. I chose a Winter Pea and Mustard based on what might do well in my region. I also used annuals that would die off in winter versus having to cut down in the spring and cover. The pea will help fix nitrogen in the soil while the mustard will help manage soil-borne pathogens known as biofumigation. Here are the steps I took:
1 | Removed all plants that were left in the bed, but left most of the fallen leaves.
2 | Raked lightly to even out the bed and create a looser top layer for the seeds. I only went maybe ¼”-3/8” into the soil while raking.
3 | Measured my seed: 32 sq. ft. = 2.5 oz. of pea seed + .5 oz. mustard
4 | Mixed and sprinkled the seed throughout the bed.
5 | Patted the seed into the soil lightly with a shovel.
6 | Watered.
Harvested & Dried Cayenne Peppers

Our cayenne plant has done extremely well and is still going strong! Usually every couple of weeks we will harvest and dry. I have a dehydrator that makes it pretty easy. I power it up to 140 degrees and let the peppers dry for 12-14 hours. From here I use a food processor to break up the skins and seeds – just imagine what red pepper flakes look like in the store. That’s it!

Dehydrating Cayenne Peppers

 Cut Back Peony

Now is a great time to consider cutting back any perennials that might need it. Think about your grasses, ferns, peony, etc. For now, I only cut back our Peony since our ferns still had some green growth on them. I decided to let them go a little longer. By cutting back you get the chance to remove all of the old or diseased foliage so that next year the growth will jump-start once spring hits. You can also consider adding a nice layer of mulch to help protect the base during the cooler months.

Cutting Back a Peony Plant     Fall Peony Flower Care
Fertilized Trees

This year we took a much more proactive approach to take care of our trees especially the Magnolia and Peach Tree. The goal was to get edible fruit and repair our Magnolia tree that wasn’t looking so hot. Turns out just by fertilizing our trees in the Spring we achieved our first blooms on the Magnolia tree and did get some edible peaches on one of our fruit trees.

A good practice is to keep this up two times a year so Fall makes a great time to fertilize. We used stakes that go right into the ground. For the magnolia tree, we used this fertilizer & for the peach tree, we used this fertilizer.

Fall Tree Maintenance
Check on Compost
Every few weeks I like to go back and dump our small kitchen compost. This makes it a good time to turn the compost and see if it needs water. I find that ours tends to dry up pretty quickly and it’s ideal if it has some moisture - not wet, but not bone dry either. I use a watering can to add and then mix in the water. Simple as that.
Did you plant bulbs this fall or get a great squash harvest? Tag us at @cottonandmoss on Instagram to share!

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