Tennessee’s State Tree is the Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron Tulipifera.) A seasonal prelude, it’s one of the first trees to lose its leaves. Pank and I took a rainy drive this weekend, when there she stood weeping. Her golden leaves were strewn about, and her limbs becoming exposed in the first hints of autumn air.
Middle Tennesseans still have several 80 and 90-degree weeks ahead of us, but the air is drier and the heat is short-lived. While the evening soil is still warm, greens and cover crops have plenty of time to establish themselves in the garden. It’s time to plant the fall garden. But in the words of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, we must first “discard and decide where to keep things.”
We started by saying so long to the cherry tomato vines, even though their persistence served for much inspiration. Click here for The Tennessean story I wrote about these little guys. Ripping them out, I kept finding stray, green ones. “One more batch of pickled tomatoes,” I thought to myself. As I ripped, Pank tilled. We’ve kept the late plantings of peppers and eggplant. But the withered cucumber, squash and watermelon vines? Outta here! After this weekend, the remains of our summer garden will head to the compost pile. All but the seeds, of course. We have created quite a seed library. Pank and I find comfort in creating our own stash of heirlooms and knowing exactly where our food comes from. Visit Seed Savers Exchange for a valuable resource for the future of our food.
Whether you’re a first-time gardener or your calloused hands deserve reprieve, the fall garden offers a sense of accomplishment with a lot less toil. Southern humidity and heat introduce all sorts of pests, mold and fungus that just aren’t as big of a problem come September. Depending upon rainfall, seed germination may need a little help. Start by watering rows prior to planting. Also, plant the seeds a tad deeper than you normally would. Nitrogen levels may be out of balance depending upon how heavy your summer plants fed. Folding organic materials such as grass clippings and composted leaves into the soil should do the trick. The UT Extension Office predicts that Nashville’s first frost should happen around October 29th allowing plenty of time for plants to establish and “harden off” before a hard freeze. Click here for Tennessee frost predictions and other tips that will set you up for a success in the fall garden.
MY FAVORITE FALL CROPS ARE:
Cover Crops such as wheat and rye (Also known as green manure, cover crops repair/build soil structure and prevent erosion.)
This summer, Alisa Huntsman of Will Garden for Cake and I have blogged stories from our garden in hopes to inspire. As fall and winter arrive, we have plenty to share with you. Please head over to Alisa’s site for more “homesteadiness.” Really, I never thought of myself as a homesteader. “Homesteading is living off the grid,” I thought. But by becoming more self-sufficient using your own surroundings and resources, the practice of homesteading is for all of us. My name is Melissa Corbin and I’m a homesteader. Won’t you be one too?