Gardeners who grow food may see fall as a season of contradictions. On one hand, our kitchen-garden veggies are fading; homegrown-tomato season is coming to an end. On the other hand, it’s the start of the garden’s “second season” of sorts here in Middle Tennessee. As we pull out the dying squash and cucumber vines, the spent okra and tomato plants, we’re making space for vegetables that grow in cooler weather, and can continue to have homegrown produce throughout the fall and, in some cases, well into winter. Consider the possibilities!
- Leafy vegetables: Lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and other leafy greens planted early spring grow quickly when the soil is cool, and go to seed and die back as the weather warms up. Planted now, though, as weather begins to cool, these leafy greens will again thrive.
- Root vegetables: Once they sprout, carrots, turnips and radishes grow fairly quickly, and continue to survive even through frosty fall nights.
- Cole crops, or brassicas: broccoli, collards, cabbage, kale, bok choy and others are among the cool-season vegetables that grow in fall and are tough enough to withstand the colder weather to come.
Any time of year, the freshest, most flavorful and satisfying vegetables and herbs come from your own garden. Not everyone has the time, energy or ability to do the hard work and give the constant attention that’s required to enjoy bountiful harvest throughout the growing season, though. That’s when the Personal Farmer team at Gardens of Babylon can help.
“The Personal Farmer service is everything from design and installation of the garden to maintenance of seasonal vegetables,” says Chloe Barrett, a maintenance specialist on Gardens of Babylon’s design team.
Raised bed gardens are a good choice for most Personal Farmer gardens, Barrett says. The Gardens of Babylon team beds using cedar boards, which are naturally and organically resistant to pests and decay.
“We can build out 4×4-foot, 8×8, single or double high or a custom installation.” The beds are filled with a blend of garden soil and compost mix. The beds are built with a weed barrier underneath the soil that keeps unwanted plants from coming up from below the beds and prevents the soil from washing out.
Fall is the best time to prepare your kitchen garden for the following season, Barrett says. “That way, you have your beds in and they’re settled, you can enjoy an immediate fall garden, and the beds are ready in the spring.” She also recommends new installation of raised beds during the dormant season, when there’s a faster turnaround time before the inevitable spring backlog in building and maintenance services.
A Personal Farmer plan begins with a free 30-minute phone consultation, followed by a designated rep who will come to your home, assess the area, and make recommendations based on the proposed site, direction of the sun (“Most vegetables need six to eight hours of full sun to do best,” Barrett reminds us), and provide tips and tricks, “Things that help you have a successful garden,” she says.
Once the garden is built and planted, the service can continue with a contract for ongoing maintenance. “That’s everything from weed management, fertilization, compost tea spray, even harvest, depending on how hands-off the client wants to be,” Barrett says. The garden will still need a bit of individual attention from the homeowner, but a weekly or bi-weekly maintenance visit makes any necessary tending much easier.
If you’d rather DIY
If you’re handy with simple tools and enjoy the do-it-yourself aspect of gardening, you can, of course, build and plant your own raised beds.
“We also offer the raised bed kits that come complete with everything, and instructions on how to build,” Barrett says. Bagged organic soil is also available to fill the beds, and the garden center offers vegetable starts, perennial herbs and seed of heirloom vegetables from Baker Creek.
And if you want to grow food and don’t know where to begin as a DIY, visit the Gardens of Babylon garden center and talk to an associate who can help you plan your vegetable garden, Barrett suggests.
Ready to get to know the Personal Farmer service at Gardens of Babylon? Book a consultation here.