The outdoor season is over for my 2011 Wisconsin garden. I may do a little more clean up, and possibly drag in a few leaves to cover up some north beds, but the frost has already penetrated deep and there is nothing left to harvest. There will be no more weeding or working the soil. All my efforts now are in preparing for next year.
Gardening patterns and habits repeat themselves as you learn what has to be done to ensure a good harvest, but that hardly means every year is the same. Change is constant and I’m always ready to try something new or modify what may not be working. Here are a few new things from this year’s gardening adventure:
I finally built a small cold frame. I really didn’t put it to the test until this fall, but the results were excellent and it has me keen on trying more season extending structures. Next year it’s going to be put to work early in the spring.
After shrinking my garden area for the past several years, I actually carved out a couple small new beds in the compost area. The bed project was a test to back up my teachings on making the raised bed system I employ and the ease with which these beds can be formed and put to work. The results were carrots, beets and peppers that I otherwise would not have had.
I had been using planting boards for years, but my boards were just scraps of plywood I had laying around. Not quite right, so this year I cut a couple to exactly the right size and I’m really glad I did. It makes planting and working on my hands and knees much easier.
I finally built the rock-solid tomato trellis I had envisioned for many years. It put an end to the wind blowing over the cages and made it easy for me to string the vines up high.
And lastly, I became a teacher this year.
I’ve actually been giving talks about my garden for several years. I’m a very loose disciple of the garden teacher Alan Chadwick. What I really embrace is the open raised beds of his teachings on intensive food production. In the past these talks were done gratis, but I’ve secured some paying engagements next year, and I’ve found that I really enjoy sharing my gardening experience with others.
To be a good teacher you have to keep learning. And to learn you have to try new things. I was quite happy with several new things I tried this year and I’ll continue to innovate in the garden in 2012.