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An Autumn Garden Good Enough to Eat (Hopefully)

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I love the farmer's markets and health food stores. I truly believe in feeding my family well to avoid health problems in the long run. Unfortunately, our grocery budget may be the thing that gives me a heart attack. Good quality, chemical-free food is becoming synonymous with expensive food. That is, unless you don't mind getting your hands dirty.

 

A few years ago my husband built a little raised bed in the back of our rental house. His first gardening attempt yielded the world's most delicious tomatoes and an absurd amount of basil. Every meal that summer was an outright feast with our vibrant tomato balsamic salads and homemade pesto. I'm drooling a little thinking about it.

 

My husband discovered he loved playing outside in the dirt and taking care of his plants. I loved cooking with the fruit of his labors. Gardener + cook = family harmony.

 

We now own our home and try to add new gardens and experiment with different crops every season. After seeing my husband come inside after tending to his garden sweaty and dirty, albeit refreshed and invigorated, I decided this autumn to step out of the kitchen and claim one of our 4x4 raised beds as my own.

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Ghost of Summer Garden Past

 

The first step to making my Amazing Autumn Garden was dismantling the No Longer Amazing Summer Garden. This now sad and slighlty terrifying trellis once held sugar snap peas as sweet as dessert.

 

I also smoothed the dirt level and pulled up the stray piece of swiss chard leftover from this summer.

 

For our edible gardens, we practice Square Foot Gardening, a gardening method that helps you make the most use of your planting space. (Not an affiliate link, I just really like this book.)  Part of square foot gardening is dividing your garden bed into 1' x 1' squares. He advises using string or thin pieces of wood to make an actual grid, but I just lazily drew my grid into the soil.  

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Here is a happy photo of a freshly tilled garden ready for fall planting with my finger-drawn grid. Even though September is on the late end for fall garden planting in South Louisiana, I'm going to give it a go anyway.

 

The cast of seeds for this garden include: broccoli, brussels sprouts, lacinato kale, collard greens, cow peas and black beans. I'm not sure what cowpeas are, but they are cute and pink.

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I soaked my beans for awhile before I planted them because my husband is the well-read gardener in the family and he said that's what I'm supposed to do. Two weeks in and my bean plants are almost a foot high, so I'd say this is legitimate advice.

 

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I soaked my beans for about ten minutes before planting. 

 

After reading the back of each seed packet, I plunged my pinky finger in to the approximate correct depth (usually somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch) and stuck those teeny tiny seeds in the ground.

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We have planted things in the past and not been able to immediately identify which seedling was which until it started producing fruit. I sketched out this quick chart to note which seeds were in which square. The number underneath indicates the number of seeds. I stuck the grid to my fridge, where I will also note the approximate harvest date of each vegetable. 

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It doesn't look like much now, but I love the idea of those seeds sleeping just beneath the surface turning into food for our family in the next couple of months.

 

Are you planting an autumn garden? Share with us what you're planting! 

 

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Nicole i's passionate about natural living, real food, community, books and cafe au laits. She can be contacted at nicole@hosienaturals.com

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