Fall and Winter Gardening

One of my favorite sources for gardening/simple living inspiration is Not Dabbling in Normal.  Earlier this morning I read a post over there titled It’s Time to Think About the Fall/Winter Garden, and that post did indeed get me thinking.

If things go according to plan (fingers crossed!), within the next month we’ll be moving into our first real house with a real yard suitable for a real garden.  Our last apartment, where we were for two years, was great and had a decently-sized yard.  However, the gardener (who was hired and paid by the landlord) had a really bad habit of weed-whacking everything that wasn’t growing in a pot–even if it was in the flower bed with a plant marker next to it.  I lost sage, basil, dahlias, daylilies, and even a tomato plant to his lack of discernment.  Needless to say, I’m excited about having complete control over a (pretty sizable) front and back yard, and I’ve got big dreams for next spring–but I don’t want to wait that long! I’ve started doing a little research as to what I can include in a small fall/winter garden that won’t require too much maintenance, but will hopefully knock out a considerable portion of our grocery bill (not to mention the health and environmental benefits of growing your own food).

In the spring, I plan on taking advantage of the chain link fence in the backyard by planting climbing varieties of beans, cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes.  Until then, I’m thinking of going ahead and building some raised beds against the fence and trying my hand at fall and winter crops.  According to HumeSeeds.com’s Fall and Winter Vegetable Planting Guide, “the soil in a well made and maintained raised bed can be between 8 and 12 degrees F. warmer than the same soil in the surrounding garden areas.”  That should be really beneficial in fall and winter gardening.

I checked the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center’s website for zone-specific advice (we’re moving to South Louisiana), and of the plants they recommend I think we’d really enjoy broccoli, garlic, onions, spinach, lettuce, and radishes.  I’m going to get to work planning planting and harvest times, and hopefully by the time we’re moved in I’ll be ready to get started.

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