If you are not growing a fall garden and have put your summer garden to bed, your focus on the garden might be minimal right now. Now is the time to get organized and plan ahead. If you do this now, you won’t feel crunched for time and the joy you feel with your garden may be higher than usual.
Sit down and mentally go over your experience in the garden this past year, then write everything down that comes to mind with what you learned. Each passing season, no matter how long you have been gardening, the garden will teach you something. I know I always tell myself Is I’ll mentally remember something for the next season, but I will forget. Take the time now to journal about what you really liked about your garden and gardening experience this year. Did you sow seeds a new way and it worked wonders? Did you start plants earlier? What worked for you? After you have written everything down, think about what didn’t work for you. Maybe it was plant spacing for your peppers or not soaking seeds that needed to be soaked or maybe you grew tired of carrying a watering can back and forth. Whatever comes to mind write it down. After that, come up with what you could do instead to make it better. You will be so thankful to have this all written down when you start your garden in the spring. I recommend do this after each season if you can, but if you haven’t done it yet, this is the prefect time to get it done.
Make a list of seed suppliers who you would like to try. You can often order seed company catalogs towards the end of the year. To help you figure out who you want to order seeds from, make a list of any fruits and vegetables you want to grow in the coming seasons. Browse seed company websites to look for new varieties to try, you may be surprised by how many options there are. My recommendation is to grow what you love, what has worked for you in the past, and add something new to see how it goes. Experimenting in the garden like this may help you find your new favorite variety of peas or tomatoes or kale, etc. Once you have a seed list and know which companies you want to order from, order their catalog or view it online if that option is available. I personally love sifting through physical catalogs and get very excited when they show up in the mail!
Once you have an idea of what you plan to grow and from where, it is time to seek out new recipes. If you take the time now instead of when the garden is giving you harvest after harvest you can have many options of what to cook with what’s ready in your garden when the time comes. It takes stress away of what to make. Check out books form the library, browse websites for seasonal dishes that feature what you plan to grow. Having a library of recipes or meal inspiration at the ready also helps ensure you will make the most of your gardens bounty. This is something I love to teach, eating what’s in season makes eating a whole food, plant-forward diet so easy and never boring. Having a kitchen garden is different than having a huge row garden on acres, a kitchen garden focuses more on eating fresh food than preserving for the winter months. Having seasonal recipes that you can use already pre-organized saves time. If you are crafty you can create a binder for each season that you decorate with drawings or stickers of what’s in season with recipes to match the season. Don’t forget to add in cross over recipes for the transitional time between seasons when you have things to harvest from two different seasons.
This is also the perfect time to dive deeper into gardening concepts that you want or need to know more about. You have many choices when it comes to learning more. There are numerous podcasts, websites, books, YouTube accounts and garden coaches that can help you. Educating yourself now will help you when the growing season starts. You can review topics or concerns that you already know to reinforce that knowledge. I will be the first to say that I am always a student and always learning. There is so much to know about gardening because there are so many ways to do it, you just have to find the way that works for you. No matter how long you have been gardening there is always something new to learn. You may choose to learn the best ways to compost for your growing space, plant families, Latin names for various plants, food storage or preservation techniques, seed saving, etc.
There are so many opportunities for your to connect with your garden throughout winter from journaling what experiences you have had this past year, deciding what you want to grow next year, choosing recipes to try and learning more. Doing all these things helps me feel more connected to my garden, even if I am growing things through winter. Let me know in the comments what you do to stay connected to your garden in the colder, slower months.