Preparing Your Garden in the fall for an Abundant Harvest in 2023
Saturday, September 10, on-farm in-person course
From the desk of Dan Oostenbrink
Date: August 8, 2022
A couple of decades ago when I started gardening, fall was cleanup time in the garden. The last straggling pole beans were harvested, stubborn carrots were dug up for storage and potato vines were thrown onto the compost heap.
A few aphid-infested kale plants were left in the corner of the garden for winter harvest. They always seemed to recuperate somewhat as the cold weather approached and hung around all winter to remind us of the coming spring when we’d be doing it all again.
Ignorantly, I’d fire up the tiller for one last round of the garden trying to kill the out-of-control weeds and work in the manure I wheeled over from the neighbour’s horse stable.
Honestly, it was drudgery.
Today, as a no-till market gardener, I often reflect on my early days in the garden. I’m keenly aware that I was simply repeating the same practices as my parents and grandparents. Most of our time in the garden was spent weeding. My kids hated it more than the Fairfield Island mosquitos and so did my wife since it seemed that the only time we spent together was pulling lambs quarters and chickweed.
Our yields were okay but pests were a huge problem; particularly caterpillars, slugs and wireworm. It seemed as if we were always at war with something and we were always toiling. It’s no wonder I looked forward to cleanup season with a sense of relief.
When I started our market garden, I soon began to recognize that the late summer and fall presented an awesome opportunity for growing, especially here on the West Coast (zone 7). I fell in love with the works of Elliot Coleman and was amazed at the productivity of his gardens and their ability to yield a bountiful harvest well into the fall and through the cold winters in his region.
Growing food became addictive. We began experimenting with simple low-cost season extension methods. We created detailed planting charts, experimenting with planting dates and varieties, always pushing the boundaries of what the experts told us was possible.
No-till and mulching became a central practice to combat weeds and build soil fertility. I began to recognize that in order to grow great food you needed to produce great compost, and this involved more than simply throwing organic material on a mound in the back corner of the yard.
As in my case when I started a couple of decades ago, many gardeners don’t start thinking about gardening until the spring, but there is no time like autumn to prepare your garden for next year’s growing season.
Late summer and fall are now an exciting time for us. During the cooler days we’re actively planting and seeding our fall and winter crops. Melons, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, lettuce, ginger and more are harvested daily. New areas are being made ready for spring seeding. Cover crops are sown.
And of course, we continue to focus on keeping our garden beds weed-free and composted. Every bed on the farm is occupied. Carbon sequestering is at its peak. Soil life flourishes as is evident by the spongy earth beneath our bare feet.
It’s this joy that I want to share with every gardener. Growing healthy food is the most pleasurable thing we can do and it’s a way to reclaim our independence. There is no better activity than gardening to simultaneously promote human health, restore vibrancy to our abused earth, and bring new energy into our lives and hope to our communities.
Fall is the best time to prepare your garden for the upcoming growing season. To this end, Andrew, Jack and I decided that it’d be a good idea to host a practical, in-person gardening event this autumn.
In this six hour on-farm course, we’re mostly interested in answering the question, “How do I prepare my garden in the fall for high yields the following year?”
Your instructors will be…
- Yours truly, Dan, a market gardener with ten years experience
- Andrew Couzens, a composting & soil expert and owner of Terra Flora Soilworks
- Jack, an edible landscape designer and owner of the Fruits and Shoots Plant Farm.
We’ll touch on the basic principles of no-till, permaculture gardening and give you tried and proven methods for building soil fertility, improving yields, reducing pests and eliminating weeds.
Understanding the principles of organic, no-till gardening will help you make informed decisions in your garden through the winter and early spring so that you can set yourself up for success next year. We’ll cover the theoretical as well as tour our gardens to give context and provide real-life examples of how to take your gardening to the next level.
This course is meant for beginner and more experienced gardeners who wish to gain greater food self-sufficiency.
Lunch & drive to Fruits and Shoots Plant Farm, 9660 Pelly Rd, Chilliwack, BC V2P 6H4 (15 min via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1)
We are scheduling this event for 35 participants. If you wish to attend but cannot make it on Sept. 10, let us know here; we may schedule another Saturday if there is sufficient demand.
Our farm and market are at 7697 Lickman Road, Chilliwack, BC V2R 4A7.
We hope you can join us and we look forward to seeing you on the day.
Online Course Members
Maximum 35 participants
Saturday, September 10, 9am – 3:30pm
Maximum 35 participants
Saturday, September 10, 9am – 3:30pm
If you wish to attend but cannot make it on Sept. 10, please let us know here. We may schedule a 2nd Saturday if there is sufficient demand.
Morning session, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Our farm and market are located at:
7697 Lickman Road
Chilliwack, BC V2R 4A7
Afternoon session, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Jack’s Fruits and Shoots Plant Farm is located at:
9660 Pelly Road
Chilliwack, BC V2P 6H4
note: 12 min (16.5 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
Growing healthy food is the most pleasurable thing we can do and it’s a way to reclaim our independence. There is no better activity than gardening to simultaneously promote human health, restore vibrancy to our abused earth, and bring new energy into our lives and hope to our communities. ~Dan