Fall is Upon Us

It is fall time in Alaska, and the gardens are officially done producing for the season. Like any other year, there was plenty of success and plenty of failure. The winds and the cold came earlier than normal, along with some serious, seemingly never ending rain, and I didn’t get to harvest one single green bean or squash. None of the tomatoes ripened on the vine either, although I ripened some inside, and I did get to make fried green tomatoes! I kept the other vegetables going for as long as I could, and much longer than I expected, actually. I just this week pulled the last of the carrots, making 9 pounds total!

Due to the cold, wet summer, my compost pile wasn’t as finished as I wanted it to be, so I decided to let it sit over the winter and spread it on the raised garden beds in the spring. The pile is currently sitting in a spot that will hold an apple tree next year, so this gives the ground an extra shot of nutrients before the tree is planted.

My beautiful, sweet, crisp carrots!

I’ve got the basic layout of next years garden planned, but it will probably change at least 4 or 5 times before I get to the final plan. I have been seriously considering NOT expanding the garden any, rather just building up what I already have and stepping back to take a year long look at where the plans are leading me.

I need to start paying a lot more attention to crop rotation, and that might be my primary garden focus. I am also planning a big addition to the yard… chickens! Hopefully this spring I will finally be getting my chickens, which means that my entire compost system will be overhauled.

The air is starting to get cold again, but it has the crispness of the fall rather than the almost sterile feel of a cold January morning. Now is the time that I start paying more attention to the fullness of the bird feeder. When stocking your pantry, don’t forget about your bird seed needs for the winter. Seed is a lot cheaper in bulk than to go buy a little bag once a week. Remember that the more seed you put out, the more birds there will be to depend on that food this winter, and be sure that the feeder isn’t so far away that you aren’t willing to shovel the path to it all winter long. I always make sure to provide plenty of homemade suet cakes as well, which the woodpeckers really seem to love.

The snow will be here soon, like it or not, but with it comes the holiday season, and lovely things like pumpkin pie, warm fireplaces, snowball fights, and beautiful starry nights. Various knitting projects are coming out, which serve the dual purpose of providing a little extra warmth while you work on them and providing a diversion from the cold and the dark.

Although it is sad that I don’t have the garden to go play in, I appreciate the chance to not worry about the vegetables for a few months. It is sometimes nice to just close all the blinds, light some holiday-scented candles, and enjoy the warmth of the house while the darkness tries to peak in from the edges of the windows.

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Jamie shares her thoughts and ideas as she explores organic gardening and permaculture in Big Lake, Alaska. She writes about chemical-free gardening in a cooler climate, saving energy or using alternatives, cooking from scratch, and living a more frugal lifestyle.


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