Thursday, October 13, 2011

fall to winter: making the transition

Entropy is at work in the summer garden, but not fast enough? Timing is puzzling at this juncture, as I want to both (a) get the most out of the fading basil, beans, tomatoes, and peppers, as well as harvest early fall crops like cauliflower and broccoli, and (b) get a green manure in the ground while it can still get a some growth in before winter.

According to Steve Solomon, the strategy is to take them all out in October and sow with green manures--favas, crimson clover, field peas. Anytime in October is not too late, according to Steve Solomon, though my hunch is mid-month is better. He also states that a good Spring garden DEPENDS upon having the beds worked the previous fall. "For heat-loving vegetables no edible succession is possible; follow them with an overwintering green manure."

Steve Solomon also recommends getting garlic in by mid-September, but he seems to be the only one. Most say mid-October.

But what about late Fall crops? Do we harvest Brussels sprouts in November, and leave the ground bare? I suppose I can leave the stalks and leaves standing, or cut them down and leave them protecting the soil. Solomon mentions areas of the garden with little but cabbage family stumps and remains of winter crops by March, which he scatters with garden pea seed. He chops in the garden peas when they're flowering in mid-May, to prep the ground for summer heat-lovers. He pulls them by hand. "Peas leave the soil in magnificent, fine-textured condition, ready to rake out and sow seeds in, or ready to accept transplants." (p106)

1) spring garden goes in March-April-sometimes May preceded by mowing then tilling in cover crop; matures before things get hot
2) summer garden goes in May-midJune; must finish at or before first frost to be sown to green manures
3) fall/winter garden mostly June-July, some salad greens in September; sown where spring garden was
4) cover crops sown in October, or whenever else ground is bare for a bit
* simple rotation + winter green manure over about half the area

Oregon Tilth's planting and harvest chart:

Territorial's planting chart:

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