For many years we were under the impression that gardening was something that you did only in the summer, but living off the grid has taught us that is not the case.
The fall garden is now our favorite and this year is no different.
The sun of fall is still strong enough to mature broccoli, cabbage and our personal favorite chinese cabbage (or napa).
Of course all of the root crops are still growing nicely too... carrots, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips (which we overwinter and eat in the spring, they are best this way). Our homestead off grid garden is best described asyear round.
For the past week we have been rejoicing in the fact that it has not froze our more tender crops yet, a new record for us.
October second and it still has not froze our peppers, some nice hot hungarian peppers here.
Our usual frost date has been around September 11 each year with an earliest of September 1.
It's not hard to figure out why we have embraced the fall garden with such a short frost free growing season.
Watching everything blacken, wither and die in September was not our idea of fun so we have experimented with lengthening the growing season with hardy crops. In our area if we are to eat fresh food from the garden it is a must.
Off Grid Living has its benefits, but it does come with a cost. Getting tuned into the weather in our area has been a real cost for us, but has had tremendous benefits too.
It has cost us time and energy, and a few good crops of vegetables too. Like all parts of North America we have seen our fair share of extreme weather in the past few years.
Is it just me or did this just not happen 40 years ago? Our climate is definitely on the change, and we subscribe to the theory that it will be more 'extreme', not necessarily hotter or colder, but extremely variable as we have seen recently.
Our summers have seen tornadoes, hail, torrential rains where we could not even 'walk' in the garden let alone harvest crops. It has been pretty unbelievable but we have learned to cope... no, not cope but thrive with the extremes.
Too hot, too wet, too cool, too dry... we have it covered by using variety, succession plantings and using the available water in our stream.
Jane and I don't take much time for complaining about the weather, it is one of those things that you 'can' complain about all the time, as it is rarely perceived as perfect
Why rail against something you just can not change? Years ago we tried to figure out what to grow, how to grow it and when so that we always had something to harvest. That is where variety comes in.
Some crops we call necessities and some are purely for enjoyment- like growing big pumpkins. This has been a good year for the Atlantic Giants Jane loves to grow so much.
Living off the grid like we do offers up some unique opportunities for some interesting hobbies and experimentation. This is one that Jane really loves.
We are never able to grow real record pumpkins because of our really short growing season but she does pretty good. Way to go 'sweetness' , you did great this year.
It was also a great year for some honeydew melons that we grew too. Melons in the north? Yes, each year we grow a variety of new plants to test. And finally we have a consistent producer for our area.
That is what the variety is all about. Plant a number of different species in your garden, and different varieties too. Keep planting new ones each year until you find some that work, and stick with those... but don't be complacent. Just because you have one carrot variety you like does not mean you should stop there. Keep buying new carrot varieties to test, and retest.
Each year we are faced with some new weather phenomenon that we can not explain, only cope with. And each year we find new ways for our garden to thrive. One method is succession planting- that is planting seeds throughout the growing season so that you have produce right up until winter. It really works.
One of our goals at the Off Grid Living Homestead is to eat at least one meal every day all year from our own efforts. For months on end we actually eat at least 2 meals per day that we produced ourselves. Succession planting and proper storage methods allow us to do this.
Find plants that you can grow in the fall, you will be glad you did.
When we first moved to our new home here, we had no cleared land for a garden, and work on our home had to take priority from sun up to sun down... but we did take time to clear a small piece of ground near the house that first summer and our first planting was a meagre little patch of radishes.
After having grown a garden every year for most of our lives, this was the first year we had none. That little patch of radishes held all of the promise of our new venture. They grew slowly having been planted in early september just before frost, but they did grow.
Right up until it snowed in November we ate those little radishes, each promising a new beginning, a new start for Jane and I, here living off the grid. The promise of the potential of the fall garden was shown to us that first cool fall in the form of tiny little radishes that refused to die with the first frosts. Wilted and fragile, yet resilient enough to bounce back each afternoon they taught us what it meant to really give it your all.
That was just the beginning of gardening off the grid in the fall, each year we learn more about some new vegetable or technique that keeps us eating fresh food here at the off grid living homestead.