As the weather started to get colder, it was time to assess what planters I had for next year. I collected all the planters, put them in the front yard, and got to work.
First, I washed each container out thoroughly to clean out all the old dirt and cobwebs (it's amazing how efficient spiders are at finding nooks and crannies to live in). Then, I let them air dry in the sun. I sorted them by size and type. I then stacked them in order to maximize the storage space available on my shelving unit.
Next, I started planting! You might be thinking it's a a little premature. A couple of months ago, I'd have agreed with you, but I started garlic this year so that it is ready for planting in the Spring. For this, I grabbed one of my 3 gallon buckets, filled it with dirt, planted the garlic cloves, and covered the dirt with 8 inches of mulch to protect it from the cold. I used garlic cloves purchased from a local seed provider. If you do not have a local seed provider, there are online seed catalogs, where you can purchase vegetable, fruit, and flower seeds. I wouldn't recommend planting garlic bought from a grocery store. You never know where that garlic is grown.
I cut back my coleus and planted those cuttings in a couple of pots. This is an experiment, and I'll have to admit, I have the worst brown thumb when it comes to indoor plants. I'm learning, though, and I'm trying different strategies, like bottom watering. We'll see how those do...
I currently have a peace lily in my son's room that is partially submerged in a pot of water (very similar to this - https://amzn.to/3seCkiu). We'll see how that does. Considering I have 7 cats and 2 dogs, I did have to spray that down with a citrus solution to prevent the cats from eating it. This was a mixture of orange juice and water. I simply juiced an orange, added some water and sprayed the plants down, using one of my spray bottles (https://amzn.to/3Snsvtj). If you don't have an orange, lemon or lime juice works as well. You're looking for the acidity and citrus flavor, which deters cats. So far, it has been extremely helpful in deterring the cats from the plant! I'll have to check on that every few days to ensure they stay away.
Back on topic. :)
Once I had my pots cleaned and stored, I bought some Miracle-Gro potting mix in order to be ready once February rolls around, and I start seeds indoors.
Next on the list is burning a wood pile on the side of the house and tilling out any rocks and debris. This will be the future location of the garden. It'll be much larger than the current garden, it's closer to the greenhouse, and it will be at the bottom of the water table. My hope is that this will encourage better growth in future plants. The current location of the garden is set on a hill. In 2022 when I first started a garden, this was the only space available. I think this section of the property served me well. It allowed me to dip my toes into gardening without feeling completely overwhelmed. It was close to the house, so I could easily keep an eye on weeds and the state of the plants.
The first year, my poor zucchinis suffered terribly from squash bugs. I didn't know what their eggs looked like, so I didn't pinch them off. The eggs hatched, and the plants were COVERED in bugs. I quickly learned the lesson - kill all eggs on the underside of leaves!
I have done a bit more research into companion plants and flowers for the types of produce and herbs I intend to grow, so I'm hopeful that intentional planting next year will reduce pests.
This year, my tomatoes suffered from blight. I realized that I had not properly put the garden to bed last year. I had several tomatoes that fell off the vine, and I left them, thinking they will feed some animal from the woods. No. The debris and seeds from the first year's tomato plants (these had a small amount of blight, but I caught it early and took evasive action) sat on the soil and contaminated the garden. Another lesson learned.
There is so much to gardening, and I'm only scratching the surface as I endeavor to expand my garden and provide for my family through its harvest. I'm a trial by error kind of a person, so I'll keep you posted on my hiccups, lessons learned, successes, and failures. In the meantime, I'll continue to learn and share my findings here!