Reflecting on the October Garden
The October list was long with some heavy lifting, however, I had help with moving the rocks from the neighborhood kids. I let them build a "mountain bike trail" through the front yard and helped them make a clearing under the trees for "camping." Z led the charge and also managed the big ambitions of her friends to build a jump in the middle of the trail. We have an agreement that they have dominion over the mountain bike trail to the sidewalk and I, from the edge of the trail to the house.
I managed to complete the bulk of the tasks on my October gardening to do list through an extended, sunny and colorful fall. I ended up adding a few projects as well, like adding a bed closest to the house in the backyard and finishing a set of flagstone steps I had started in July. There are also many perennials to split still, but November promises a few beautiful crisp days still to get this done.
What We Accomplished in the Front Yard
Operation rock relocation was completed and the aspens now will be able to send up succession shoots so we always have an aspen grove in the front yard. The kids used to call this rock island, but do seem to enjoy their new forest floor and have had several full days of imaginative play that involved dragging out the camp chairs and tarps to the aspen grove.
We also finished the "terraced" beds in the front yard with entailed cutting back existing plants, creating rock terraces, relocating iris and lavender plants, adding compost, planting garlic, crocus, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs, and adding a thick layer of mulch for the winter. I have been told by other locals that the deer will not be deterred by the garlic, so over the winter, I plan to design some welded wire protectors to place over these beds in the late winter/early spring so the bulbs can get established before being eaten down to their nubs.
What We Accomplished in the Backyard
Winter is coming and with it the snow. We use the back steps often to go in and out of the house down to the driveway and previously there were a few pieces of flagstone embedded in the grass on the way to the gravel stairs pictured below. The previous owners generously left many pieces of flagstone all over the property dispersed across garden beds, thus other than some sand and a few bricks, we did not really spend much money to build this set of stairs.
The back yard is a hill upward toward the yurt that my husband uses as an office and I wanted to use this smaller incline and shorter distance to experiment with creating a stone pathway before we consider building steps to the yurt. I also want to see how easy or difficult these steps are to clear of snow in the winter.
The flagstone steps Z and I started in July, finalized for winter.
Because we often are barefoot in the summer these gravel filled stairs were really not conducive for a quick run to take out the trash or recycling. The property had a lot of flagstone dispersed throughout the yard so we decided to put it to better use. In July, Z and I worked together to clear out the gravel from these wooden stair forms and replace it with one big flat paver surrounded by smaller rocks.
The effect looks pretty great. We still have four more steps to complete in November. Next spring I will tackle the beds to the right and left of these lower stairs.
To the right of the flagstone walkway we are adding a bed using sheet composting; we covered the exposed ground with cardboard and then added mulch that was left by the tree service when our trees were pruned. On top of this mulch, we will add compost and over the winter, with added moisture from snowfall, this will turn into a rich home for plants in the spring.
This bed is on the north side of the house meaning it will be mainly shaded during the summer. I have a good chance of protecting this section from deer with minimal fencing material and thus may plant my cooler season veggies here as well as shade loving flowers. I will extend entirely under the deck to see if I can get lettuces and spinach to continue all summer long without bolting. It is all one big experiment, so we'll see what happens come spring.
I would love to hear from others what your big October garden projects were!