Tomato season is over, but my keyhole garden is still hard at work. One of the unsung bonuses of cooler fall temps is the opportunity to plant a whole new garden. I’m thrilled to have different crops growing in my self-composting raised bed. I love the brand new Halloween Mix radish (seeds courtesy of Seeds by Design). Do you think they look spooky with the dirt left on?! Not only are they colorful and a bit spicy, but they’re a speedy crop. I harvested in 28 days.
For all you keyhole fans, here’s a quick update of autumn keyhole gardening….
Autumn Keyhole Gardening
By the end of August my summer season veggies were worn out. I’m grateful for a prolific season of tomatoes, peppers and herbs, but fall brings some delightful growing, too. Prepping the keyhole garden for fall crops was fast and easy! I removed all the plants, including the peppers and basil, composting anything that was not diseased. I also did a thorough clean-up to make sure I wasn’t leaving behind any leaf or veggie residue that was inflected. I wanted to give my autumn garden the healthiest start possible. I then added a layer of locally purchased aged manure to help replace some of the nutrients the summer veggies had used up. That’s it. I think the whole process took less than fifteen minutes.
My goal is to grow as long into the cold season as possible. Freshly harvested winter greens make my mouth water. Since my keyhole is in a windy area, I purposely didn’t fill the soil to the top. I’m hoping the walls of the keyhole will provide a wind barrier as the season whips up. I also plan to use a cloth frost cover to extend my season. A little room at the top will make it simpler to hold my frost cover in place.
Fall Seed Selection
Once the garden was prepped, it was time to plant. Now the fun started. Home gardeners are incredibly lucky. We have an abundance of crop choices available. Often the hardest task is whittling down the choices. I love gardening, but fall is so busy! This time of year I want a hardworking garden that needs little attention from me. Also, I daily juice greens so I want a steady supply. With that in mind, I made these choices: Botanical Interest’s ‘Sassy Salad’ Mesclun, AAS winner ‘Sandy’ Lettuce, Renee’s Gardens Tuscan Baby Leaf (newly planted, sadly no photo yet), Rainbow Blend carrots, and Halloween Mix radish.
I’m 30 days into my fall growing season, and my selections are proving delightful. I’ve had a few end-of-season bugs, but what fall garden doesn’t? My crops are healthy, producing well, and tasty. I’ve harvested the come-and-cut-again lettuce varieties twice, enjoyed several rounds of radish, and am waiting (patiently?? Maybe not!) on the carrots. They are doing well, but carrot crops take 60 days so patient I must be! It’s always so tempting to give a little tug on the carrot tops, but I’m resisting! However, it is really fun to thin them and toss the thinnings into a salad.
Fall Composting & Watering
The biggest difference between summer keyhole gardening and autumn keyhole gardening is the composting and watering schedule. The garden is still producing vegetables, but naturally the self-composting has slowed down as the weather has cooled. I’m now more intentional about what I put in the compost basket. During the summer, the system was composting so fast that I could barely keep up. I could throw both browns and greens in and they would disappear. Now, I watch more carefully to make sure I’m balancing my greens and browns. The browns are taking much longer to break down. The softer green material is still disappearing quickly.
I’m checking the moisture of my soil more regularly. I watered only twice during the summer season. It’s been several days since it’s rained and far windier, I watered it (through the compost basket) this morning. I also planted more radish and my kale crop, so I did a top watering for the seeds. I’m anticipating the composting will stop as the temperatures drop.
My keyhole garden adventure continues…..
More Than Oregano
Spicing Up Your Garden Life!
Share With Others....