This year we got lucky here in Northeast Ohio and didn’t get our below freezing weather until late October. But I wasn’t worried about it (OK, maybe a little) because I already had my fall gardening plan in play. Back in August and September, I prepped several areas (including my summertime potato/pumpkin patch) and planted some fall crops, including purple top turnips, peas, onions, carrots, mustard, spinach, and corn salad (aka mache). All of these can handle and even thrive in cool temperatures and occasional frosts. When you add in my already growing Swiss chard, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and various herbs, this fall will be delicious right up to Christmas and beyond. Makes me feel a little sorry for those gardeners who till up their gardens in the fall and wait until next May to plant again (like my next door neighbors).
This spring, I let my overwintered corn salad go to seed, spreading some of the spent plants all around my garden during May (call me Snarky Mache Seed). This August, I noticed little corn salad plants growing all over, as some chillier weather woke up the seeds just as my summer plants were winding down. Corn salad is probably the most cold weather adapted crop I have in my garden and will be available for eating all the way into January. My evil plan this year was to get it established so it would just come up on it’s own year after year. I just love perennials (even when they aren’t technically considered as such). My logic is that if I’m going to have “weeds” come up in my garden, they should be edible.
Besides the planting and harvesting, I also have one other major garden activity – leaf mulching. I bought a lawn sweeper last year so I could fill my garden with them (including some new areas that had previously been lawn). The effort was quite the success as my weeds were down (except in the back where the leaves were scarce) and my soil seemed to get better. This year I’m making concerted effort to pile the leaves around as evenly as possible so I can spread the wealth, so to speak. I even piled them up on my new garlic bed, located outside the fence to the west of my garden. Even the groundhogs won’t bother garlic so it made no sense to grow it inside like I did this past year. And of course, unlike last year, I remembered to split up the bulbs into cloves and only planted the biggest.