It’s now almost Thanksgiving, and this fall is turning into winter very quickly. I’ve finally finished my outdoor preparations for winter, expanding my garden and planting the things that go into the ground in the fall.
The biggest project has been expanding my garden space. The garden runs along the fence that separates my back yard from that belonging to the house directly to the south. When I say “my” backyard, I actually mean “our”—my apartment is one of four in a huge Queen Anne Victorian house circa 1890. Mine is the smallest, and both my apartment and the other one on the ground floor have back doors into the yard. The garden space was started by my upstairs neighbor Julie, and when I moved in at the beginning of June, she had some spaces tilled and planted against the fence, and I added to it throughout the summer. Both Matt and Erin helped me till up more sod this fall, and the result is a garden that is almost twice as big! I am terrible at estimating size, but I would say it is approximately 7 feet wide by 25 feet long (maybe a little more). I am lucky enough to have a landlord who is very flexible about us making changes to the property. About making the garden, his only stipulation was “as long as there is still lawn when you’re done.” We still have a sizable green space in back of the house, and a cool shaded path and patio area on the east side of the house adjacent to my rooms. There are two narrow, tall shaded beds on that side that I am planning to plant impatiens in next spring. They are too shaded to be good for much else.
Once the whole garden space was tilled up, Matt helped me collect bags and bags of dried leaves (not hard- plenty of people in the neighborhood were raking that day and more than happy to let us take their leaves for free, as it costs $2 a bag to take them to the Metro composting site!!) and we covered the entire space (except what I had roped off for garlic) with a layer of newspaper to keep out weeds, and then layers of leaves surrounding a layer of the contents of my compost bin and the rest of the green bits from this summer’s garden. The whole thing was between 10 and 12 inches thick, and by spring will have broken down into the soil, creating deliciously moist, nutrient-rich soil for next year’s garden.
On Halloween weekend I planted my seed garlic, which Provo and I ordered from Hood River Garlic in September. I am only growing organic Chesnok Red this year- hopefully I’ll branch out more in the future, but this is my first time growing garlic on my own. I should have about 60 bulbs come June. They are all cozy now, mulched over with leaves I raked from the side yard. I’ve been raking those regularly now to put into the compost bin, which is starting over since I emptied it to mulch the garden. On a side note, Portland Metro subsidizes the standard black plastic compost bins, and I got this one for $39 instead of the market price of $50.
I had the Thursday after Veteran’s Day off, and I took advantage of being home during daylight hours and planted the $42 worth of flower bulbs that I got a couple months ago from Portland Nursery. I went all out, with a wide range of colors of tulips, daffodils, hyacinth, and one variety of Dutch iris. I planted as many as I could along the fence behind the garden, and the rest in the spaces by my back steps, and then in a border along the brick walk around to the east side of the house. I really hope they all come up, I adore bright colors and want to have a rainbow of flowers in my yard come spring!
So all my outdoor chores for the fall are done, and now it’s down to waiting for the winter rains to break down the leaves and compost on the garden and get the garlic and bulbs beefed up for growth in the spring.