While I’m always a little sad to see the colors fade from my food plot, I’m also a little relieved that I can hang up the wheel hoe for a bit and pay some attention to indoor projects.
If you don’t have a cold frame, hoop house or another protected growing area to extend your season, you’re likely ready to hang up your shovel, too. You may be able to squeak out a harvest or two of spinach or radishes depending on the weather, but if not, don’t be too hard on yourself. Grab the last of the squashes from the vine, dig up what’s left of the potatoes, pop spring’s garlic in the soil, and go put your feet up for a bit.
Although this is the time of year that things wind down, I love to think of it as the time to really prepare the soil for spring. You don’t need bags of synthetic fertilizers to boost your garden’s nutrients. I relish the task of tossing grass clippings, dead leaves, coffee grounds, wood chips and even young weeds (before they’re carrying seeds) all over my garden this time of year. I even enlist the help of my neighbors who know they’re welcome to dump their dead leaves (all but Walnut) in my yard. My goal is to cover the entire garden with natural debris before the snow flies. This helps keep weeds away until I’m ready to work the soil the following year, and also protects and feeds worms and soil microbes.
When you’re done with any last-minute pruning, spend a few hours enjoying the amazing things that make a Michigan autumn truly magical. When I lived in the eastern half of North Carolina, I had to drive four hours west to the mountains to find an orchard and you-pick pumpkins, and the leaves didn’t hit the ground until December. Make it a point to bite into a Michigan-grown apple, nab a few bundles of cornstalks for your front porch, and savor a warm donut. Maybe think about planting a few apple trees in the spring, too?
I think it’s important to take cues from Mother Nature from time to time. Allow the change of season to be your excuse to relax and unwind.
P.S. Taking it easy this time of year is always improved with a mug of mulled cider and a bowl of freshly roasted pumpkin seeds.