Did you plant a garden in the spring? How is your harvest? Now that it’s fall, here are some tips your students can use for the school garden. Use these tips in your home garden as well.
Collect mature flowers and vegetables. Locate seeds at the base of the flower. To find seeds in vegetables like tomatoes or peppers, cut them in half. Spread the seeds out to dry on a paper towel, in an open box, or in a paper bag. It will take one to two weeks for the seeds to dry. Store the seeds in paper bags or envelopes and be sure to write the name of the seeds and the date they were collected on each packet. Share or swap your seeds with other gardeners. The Beacon Food Forest in Seattle often offers a seed swap at their monthly work parties.
Clean up the vegetable garden
Pull up and remove vegetable plants so that insects and other pests don’t make a home out of them for the winter. The plants can be used to make compost, which can be mixed into the soil to improve drainage.
Plant spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. Now is a great time to plant garlic bulbs! After planting, protect the bulbs from squirrels by placing chicken wire over the garden beds.
Build Healthy Soil
Healthy soil is important for not only healthy gardens, but healthy air and water quality!
Instead of bagging leaves, spread them as a layer of mulch in gardens. A barrier of leaves helps preserve soil moisture and adds organic matter to the soil as the leaves decay. Another way to build healthy soil is to plant a cover crop, such as rye, for the winter season.
Continue to harvest herbs
Continue to harvest annual herbs such as dill and basil. Consider having your class preserve herbs through freezing and drying for use all winter long.
Inspect the landscape
Walk around the garden and tidy up the landscape by removing any dead plants. Make written or mental notes on which plants didn’t grow well so you can try something different next year.
This King County EcoConsumer video clip offers more fun ideas on what to do with your fall harvest and how to care for your garden in the fall.
And the Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline is available Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.to answer your gardening questions.