Come read my September 2023 gardening journal. Although it may look like the garden is past its prime of beauty, there is still much to be enjoyed and harvested.
This year marks year 5 of growing in this large garden. It is amazing to see how far it has come. Yet there is still plenty of room to continue to improve and grow.
Learning and growing alongside my garden.
As with most years, my plans far exceed my limitations. Five years ago I never imagined how hard it would be to keep up with such a large (60 foot by 90 foot) garden. In this season of life with babies, toddlers, homeschooling, and growing our little homestead on top of normal everyday tasks to keep the house running smoothly, there is just a serious lack of time. Perhaps also a lack of knowledge on the best and easiest ways to grow lots of food too.
I do wonder how in the world women of old managed it all. They were raising all the babies, growing and preserving all their food as well as normal daily house tasks. Although I keep looking at my schedule to see what I need to cut out, it is so hard.
I will confess, I had a few days this year where I was ready to burn the garden to the ground just to get rid of the pressing feeling of responsibility to tend it I always had hanging over my head. But alas some patient family members talked me out of burning it down (read sarcasm). Its a good thing because after a few days I had recovered from my emotional garden breakdown and was able to enjoy it again.
How the garden did this year.
Now, here we are in September, the last real month of heavy growing. We had to endure a heat wave the first week of September with temperatures in the upper 90’s. It was brutal. There has also been a lack of rain and it is making me realize how I need to implement using more mulch to keep the soil cool and moist during dry seasons.
Overall I do believe the garden was better maintained this year than previous years. I am finding the more I’m able to plant and cover the soil, the less weed pressure I have. I am still learning so much when it comes to managing a large garden.
Having a very fresh baby this spring really hindered my planting, especially the flowers I love so much. However, it is amazing to see the little gifts of beauty God sends his children. Many of my flowers from last year reseeded themselves. I was still able to have flowers even if they grew all over in random places.
September Gardening Journal 2023 – Gardening Tasks
September is still a busy season in the garden. There’s weeding, harvesting, pruning and preserving that still need to happen.
Crab grass is the biggest weed I battle in the garden and late summer it just goes crazy! I have worked hard to maintain the weeds, especially the crab grass, but I can still only keep about half the garden relatively tidy. The other half tends to become a jungle that can’t be brought back until we get a frost.
2. Grow and Harvest
I’m harvest tons of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and raspberries currently, as well as some watermelon and other melons that are starting to ripen. I planted some potatoes a little late this year. The harvest wasn’t the greatest but I still think digging up produce hidden under the ground is one of my favorite gardening tasks to do.
I planted carrots in late July but they didn’t germinate very well. Carrots really have been hit or miss for me. It can be a challenge to get them started, especially in hot dry weather.
I also planted some late zinnias since I didn’t get them in early this year. I am starting to see them bloom now and it will be fun to have them around even if it’s only for a few weeks before the first frost.
For preserving, I’m mostly putting things in the freezer to deal with later. I have plans to can some tomatoes and make some strawberry jam from our spring harvest of strawberries but until I have some time they will just hang out in the freezer.
I’m not a hug fan of canned food, although it is a skill I would love to learn one day. But for now I’m happy enough to do just to the very basics.
I need to start saving seeds as well. It is nice to be able to save seeds as it helps not having to purchase them yearly. Also, healthy plants that produce seeds start to grow to adapt better to your climate and soil and pest pressure.
4. Plan for fall planting
I need to order garlic for fall planting. I would have used my own that I grew but since I didn’t harvest them soon enough many of them started to rot in the ground. Same thing happened with my onions. Although it is very frustrating, I need to remember that I did what I could and this is an area where I just couldn’t keep up.
Although not related to the main kitchen garden, the garden beds around the house need some attention this fall. We had the bushes around the house taken out this summer and we need to replant with something more attractive. I need to sit down and plan out what we are going to grow. I want to create a cottage type garden around the house, but also one that is very easy to maintain so I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.
September Gardening Journal 2023 – What worked well this year
There were a few things that worked really well this year.
One was I trellised the tomatoes up a cattle panel attached to some t-post by zip ties. This really helped my tomatoes grow upright better. The second thing I did with my tomatoes was to prune heavily, I mean really heavily. This has helped keep the plants under control as tomato plants can tend to take over.
We also put down some silage tarp on a part of the garden I knew I wasn’t going to get to. This helped to keep the weeds down and kept me from having to worry about what to plant there. I know silage tarp isn’t great to keep down long term but it was so helpful this year.
September Gardening Journal 2023 – Things to improve next year
The thing that really tipped me over the edge this year was trying to maintain the weeds. I need to come up with a better plan so that I don’t feel like I’m drowning in garden work. I want to enjoy being out there and not feel stressed by all the work.
Creating a food forest is something I find interesting. I do love the look of straight rows in the garden but if I was able to turn part of it into more of a food forest I believe it could maintain itself better.
I also know I need to focus on mulching really heavily and this will definitely help as well.
I also think I’m going to use some weed barrier while in the busy season of littles and homeschool. Sometimes I need help and in this case I think adding the use of weed barrier would make life easier. I love hard work but sometimes there is more work than time or energy.
The blackberries and raspberries have really filled in well but I do need to create some support for them so they have something to hold them up as they get heavy when full of fruit.
Create a Planting Schedule
Having a planting schedule would help me not to have as much unused space in the garden for weeds to grow. I think even planting a cover crop would be a good idea as it would cover the soil to keep weeds down while also adding nutrients back into the ground.
As you can see, lots of ideas and things to try. Every year is unique in the garden and I still have so much to learn.
Well, thanks for coming a long with my garden journal musings. If you have a garden, maybe it will encourage you that you aren’t alone when you feel the pressure of all the work. If you don’t have a garden, maybe it will encourage you to start one, may I recommend a small one too!
Thanks for stopping by our homestead!