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Fall Gardening Reflections

Thanksgiving, for many of us gardeners, is  a time to enjoy the last fruits of our harvest. Squash, beets, broccoli are all done and our gardens are ready for a long winter’s nap. As I look back on this fall’s harvest, I want to make sure I take a few notes and share with you some things I hope to remember for next year.

Direct Sown Tomatoes

Each spring there is a rush to start my tomatoes inside, neat little rows of seedlings that I transplant outside once we are past first frost. I love the taste of those first tomatoes, but this season in July I did some direct sowing of Sun Gold tomatoes. This was my first time direct sowing tomatoes so late in the season, and with the lateness came a little extra care. Due to the lack of water many of us experience in the Midwest in late summer, I made sure my tomatoes got weekly water with a soaker hose placed along the rows. Soaker hoses use less water than overhead sprinklers, get the water exactly where you want it to go, and discourage weeds from forming in between rows due to lack of water (which means less pulling weeds for me!). Amazingly I did get a pretty full harvest and my plants had an 8 foot spread- but I know if I had direct sown a month earlier in June my harvest would have been even bigger- something to keep in mind if I want to can tomatoes next year or make sauces. But these tomatoes were purely grown for eating and I had plenty without the work of starting seeds inside and transplanting.

Lesson Learned: Tomatoes love the sun and heat, so direct sow them in June for best results and water weekly to keep them happy.

Envy Carrots

Each year my kids get excited by pretty packets of carrots. We eat a ton of carrots here, so I always  plant my own. But come August I’m pulling up tiny carrots or worse- I wait and wait for them to grow, only to find them eaten by the bunnies and my garden is overrun with furry friends.

This year Niles, Gurney’s owner and an amazing gardener, recommended Envy Carrots, his personal favorite. Why? Whatever soil you have- even clay- they will do well. Long, straight roots, excellent taste- what’s not to love? And the carrots look pretty when you pull them from the ground, perhaps even enticing your picky grandchildren to do a little gardening and a little vegetable eating. Envy carrots can be a spring or fall crop- or plant them in both seasons. For our fall crop, we sowed the seeds in July (zones 5/6) for a fall harvest- and these are definitely going in the same time next year.

Lesson Learned: Plant Envy carrots; water, weed, repeat; and then in the fall, eat!

What lessons did you learn from your fall harvest? What reflections are you carrying through to next growing season? And what plans are you already making for your spring garden?

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