With temperatures in the triple digits in much of the country, it hard to think about fall weather, but it really is just around the corner. Have you started your fall garden yet? Depending on the zone you are in, you still have time to plant and harvest before the first hard frost. What are you planning on planting? Will you use any season-extending tricks like cold frames or hoop houses?
I will admit, I am behind this year. We've had awesome growing weather this year but in addition to the veggies growing, the weeds have done twice as well. I need to till up an area for my fall planting but I have no desire to work in 105 degree weather. Still, I plan on getting some lettuce, broccoli, fall squash, and a few other items in the garden.
What are your plans? Any "tricks of the trade" you'd like to share?
Funny, I blogged about my fall garden this morning. We're prepping and planting. We've had a good harvest, but like you, our single most prolific crop may be weeds.
For fall, right now we're planting tomatoes, beets, potatoes, squash and green beans. Later we will plant broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, radishes and snap peas. I will start the broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds inside sometime this weekend. We probably won't worry about 'extending' the season. We've put enough for ourselves already. The fall garden is mostly for customers who've requested stuff. At some point, I'll move some peppers and tomatoes that are in containers to the south side of our house to gain an extra couple weeks.
We will build a small greenhouse this fall, but it will be to kick start our aquaponics garden. That will have to wait a while, though. Right now, we're stuck with 24 hour days. Until we can extend them to 36, some projects will just have to wait.
If you figure out how to extend the work day to 36 hours, please let me know. My main new project for next year is an aquaponics garden. I have all of my plans, I just need to implement. I've decided to "right-size" my farming operation next year as well. I am spending a lot of time with the poultry for little return. So next year, I told my husband, NO BIRDS! I will raise enough chickens in a single 6 week period for us and tell my customers "sorry". I make better money with my goat's milk products so that is where I will focus. Plus, I enjoy that so much more. The birds are messy and nasty and I make little profit. Also, no more pigs. At least not until the ones I have are all eaten. They are not for me either. I'd rather raise the calves. And on my garden I am goign to plant a small garden for us and then specialize in certain products for market. I do exceptionally well on garlic, shallots, lettuce, herbs, and onions. Those are easy for me to grow so I will expand that portion and not grow what everyothe farmer has like squash, mellons, tomatoes, etc.
I need to enjoy what I am doing and over all I do, very much in fact. But there are things that I have discovered are not fun and not profitable when I look at the amount of time I have to devote to them.
@Damon - Collards. We will probably grow a few, but since my wife hates them and I have not gauged customer interest, I'll only grow enough for me to have a mess or two.
@Jean - I hate machinery. I have no mechanical skills so breakdowns cost me a fortune. We try to do as much as possible with human or animal power. We have a small tiller and a lawn tractor. The maintenance on those alone keeps me frustrate.
@Karen. - My wife feels about the same as you do about the chickens. We will cut back next year, but our customers love them, and along with the eggs, the poultry are a gateway product. So far, we love our pigs and I believe pork could be a big earner for us. As I've said before, it's cows we can't grow effectively where we are. I love cows and we love beef, but with our weedy pastures, the inputs are too expensive. So once the two were growing out are in the freezer they are off the farm until we get better pasture.
I want to cut back on the garden, because I like raising the meat better, but the requests for a CSA are coming in a steady stream. We are going to try it for a year and see what happens. So far, we're selling enough goat's milk and yogurt to pay for the cost of keeping them. The excess is going in the freezer for soap making in the winter and to the pigs. The amounts are just about perfect.
As regards the aquaponics, we have grown herbs in our aquarium. Basil, in particular, prospers, but other herbs and greens grow nicely that way. We have all the hardware for our first Tilapia project. I just need to put up a greenhouse first. We have three containers of duckweed growing and they will be the 'starter' for raising the feed for the fish. We will grow it in tubs and in the sump tank. We will start with 25 Tilapia. Want to start slowly to make sure we know what we're doing.
I will probably expand my laying hens....I do like them and I could sell 2-3 times as many eggs as I get now. Its the meat birds, turkeys, and pheasants that I can do without.
We will have to compare notes on our aquaponics. I am excited about that and how great will it be to have fresh fish for dinner!
Amen to that, Sam. A few years ago, a Mennonite fella offered to sell me an ox, and now I wish I had taken him up on it (my neighbors would love me, I'm sure.) Thanks to the cats I have a good veterinarian, but I have yet to find a really skilled small engine mechanic :)
On a happier note, I hear thunder in the distance. I think I'll go out and do a rain dance to bring it toward the orchard!
I am with you on that Damon. I've already decided to have two separate gardens next year. A small one just for us with a few tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. And, then one for market where I concentrate on the items that I have that no other farmer is currently selling and bring me the most return for my investment (including my time and labor), For me that is Garlic, Shallots, onions, herbs and hopefully some aparagus. I love growing garlic. You get to plant it in the fall when it is nice and cool, let it do it's job over the winter & spring, and then harvest in the early summer BEFORE the terrible heat hits.
Next year I plan on working SMARTER, not harder. lol
Can't wait to see your e-books!