It has been a few years since I attempted a vegetable garden! While we were pretty successful and enjoyed the process other factors in our life kept us from trying again. This spring it was the knowledge that we would likely be moving – which we did! We have loved starting our own homestead so far and a garden has to be a part of that plan! Unfortunately, we moved well past the spring planting dates for our zone. I have never tried planning a fall garden before but this seems like a pretty great time to start!
Planning A Fall Garden
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Plotting the Garden Location
Since we are moving to a new location the first step in planning a fall garden was figuring out where to put it! With some properties, this is probably pretty straight forward! Because our new homestead has a lot of hills and shade trees we had a bit of a harder time. We couldn’t put it in the pasture for obvious reasons (though the deer and future livestock would likely love it!) and other parts of the property were either too sloped/rugged or lived in perpetual shade. Neither option was overly great for gardening.
After some thought and with the idea that more vertical gardening tactics would probably be required when we expand we planned out a few beds on the side yard. Since I will probably have to do a lot of work on the soil (thanks to red clay) and because this is an experiment of sorts I will probably start with one small bed and expand it come spring.
To Be Successful Most Gardens Require
- A least 6 hours of sunlight
- Good drainage
- A level location with loose rich soil
- A nearby source of water
The location we picked will definitely need work. I don’t think there is loose rich soil anywhere here and some areas are shaded more throughout the day then I would like BUT with careful plant choices and some soil additions, these are obstacles I can workaround.
Mapping Out A Plan
To make sure that my garden idea would work out first I drew it out on a piece of paper and then I actually plotted it out on the ground. Let’s face it, sometimes the grand ideas we have in our heads just don’t translate well to real life. It’s always best to draw it out and if possible, do some sort of physical mock-up before you start chopping things up on your lawn.
To plot things out on paper I used the very useful blank pages that are included in my passion planner. This has also become home to the plans for our new chicken coop and a rotational grazing system for the pasture. I love that my passion planner lets me keep all of these details in the same place as my calendar and day to day to-do lists. Its far more convenient to have everything in one location rather than having to hunt up numerous different notebooks.
Once I had my idea drawn out on paper I used some bricks (because we inherited a huge pile of them with the house) and twine to lay it out on the ground and get a real idea of what the end result would be. Granted I won’t be churning up all three beds I plotted this fall but it was still nice to see the eventual end result.
Preparing The Bed
I don’t expect this first garden bed to be perfect. In fact, if I manage to harvest anything from it at all I’ll be happy! As I stated above the soil here is pretty much hard red clay. I expect that I will have to add a good bit of compost to it before it truly produces. Compost takes time to create and while I might buy a bag or two to get started I expect that it will be an ongoing process. Thankfully between the chickens, quail, goats, and rabbits that we eventually plan to get I should have more than enough to work with. Building a compost bin will probably be a project I need to get started on soon.
In the meantime I plan on using my garden tiller to loosen the clay and mix in any soil I buy. I picked the sunniest bed to start with.
Choosing The Plants
Since I am hoping for a fall garden it’s important to choose plants that can thrive at this time of year. To figure this out I looked up a planting calendar for our USDA zone (8a) – which you can find here!
Some of the Best Cool Weather Plants Include
- Brussels Sprouts
It looks like I will be growing a lot of greens, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and other such plants. This is great for us because we tend to use quite a bit of those in our everyday cooking and most of them are also great for a keto-friendly garden! I also got quite a few seeds that will be suitable from my heirloom seed package. I went out of my way to find heirloom seeds so that I could start saving seeds for net year. I mean you not really self-sufficient if you have to re-buy seeds every year because the plants don’t breed true! That was the whole reason we expanded our chicken flock to include roosters!
Hopefully the only time we will need to buy chicks or seeds again is when we want to add a new bloodline or type to our existing collection! Provided of course that everything works as intended, which as we all know is always questionable and might take us a few years to achieve.