As we roll into September, I have to ask: how is your garden doing?  It has been a while since our last tour of the Small Scale Life Garden, so I figured it was time to post a Late August Garden Update and discuss my Fall Planting strategy. Of course, there is a lot going on around our urban homestead last weekend, and I wanted to talk about our Weekend 3 Things effort on the Small Scale Life Facebook Group.

With cooler temperatures this week, it is a constant reminder that winter is coming!  I need to get my rear end moving to take advantage of the remaining garden season.  Time IS running out since the first frost will hit around October 11!

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Introduction to Garden Update, Fall Planting and Weekend Three Things

Late August Garden Update, tomatoes

It’s a tomato-rich environment – August 2018

For the second week in a row, we are going to talk about a few different topics as part of our early week potpourri show.  I discussed the following topics in this show:

  • Weekend 3 Things
  • Late August Garden Update
  • Fall Planting Strategy


Weekend 3 Things

In the Small Scale Life Facebook Group, I listed two items on my Weekend 3 Things agenda this past weekend:

  • Basement Project
  • Corn Relish

This is a brief discussion of progress on these things.

Basement Project

Unfortunately, the basement project is a top priority, and it was the only thing I got done this weekend.  We are not done with the project by any stretch of the imagination, but we made some solid progress!

We completed demolition last week as soon as we took my son Ryan to school.  We removed old paneling and ceiling tiles and “prepped our battlefield” by moving some old electrical and phone lines.

This weekend, we got moving on the construction of the new walls.  It was a whole family affair: the Old Trapper (Julie’s dad), Julie, Savannah and Danny all got into the swing of things.  We spent some time figuring out the first wall, but once we got that figured out, we were off to the races and got a lot of framing done.  We had a couple mistakes along the way, but that is the best way to learn.

We will continue to work on the basement project this weekend and until the project is done.


Corn Relish

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I have the ingredients for the corn relish ready to go! August 2018

The corn relish project was on hold until this evening.  I got the ingredients ready, and I have been waiting for a break in the action to get it done.

While I didn’t make as much as I usually do (only 18 ears of corn vs. 4-5 dozen), I think the smaller batch will taste great.  I used some really good corn, spiced it up with jalapenos from my garden and sweetened it with Michael Jordan’s honey.

I am really looking forward to tasting this batch of corn relish, and using your own vegetables and products from friends makes this batch special.

Late August Garden Update

Late August Garden Update, peppers

Peppers are coming in Bed 1 – August 2018

For this Late August Garden Update, we’ll break this down by the particular raised bed and gutter garden.

Bed 1

Late August Garden Update, zucchini

Zucchini and cherry tomato clones: hanging on by a thread – August 2018

For those who might be new to Small Scale Life, Bed 1 is a 4’x6’ raised bed.  I planted tomato plants, peppers and zucchini in this garden bed.  This bed can be summed up with the following phrase: “it was the best of time and the worst of times.”

The tomatoes and the peppers are really doing pretty well given the lower quality soil in this bed.  The tomatoes and peppers have been fighting roots that have infiltrated the raised beds, and these roots have been siphoning out nutrients and competing for space.  Even with these challenges, the plants are doing much better and producing fruit.

The zucchini, however, is hanging on by a thread.  It is the last one standing after squash borers eliminated two smaller plants.  A few weeks ago, I removed six fat squash borers from the last zucchini stem.  While I was trying to remove some dying leaves from the plant, I accidently snapped the stem.

Zucchini and squash will sprout new roots off their stem, and I covered it back up.  The zucchini plant has sprouted some new leaves, but I think the plant’s days are numbered.  I will probably pull this plant and add greens to this area (more on that later).

I did plant two cherry tomato clones near the zucchini plants.  I made these clones from bigger suckers that I pruned during one of my videos.  Unfortunately, I don’t see these clones making it too much longer.  They just don’t have the time to flourish and produce fruit.

Bed 2

Late August Garden Update, cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are getting ripe – August 2018

For those of you who are new to Small Scale Life, Bed 2 is also a 4’x6′ raised bed.  The soils are better in this bed, even though the roots have infiltrated this bed as well.  The following plants are growing in this bed:

  • Chives
  • Tomato plants
  • Kohlrabi
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Basil

The tomatoes, kohlrabi, broccoli, green beans and chives are growing very well!  I am very pleased with Bed 2, and I think that planting sugar snap peas as a cover crop late in 2017 really helped the soils in this bed.

The basil got downy mildew, and they have been hit pretty hard.  I am not surprised since I had seen articles from other sources about downy mildew destroying basil in Minnesota.  It is time for me to pull the basil from the garden area.  Since it has downy mildew, I cannot compost any of those plants.  It is important to note that the basil downy mildew pathogen will not survive the winter in soil or compost….so there is that!

Gutter Gardens

Late August Garden Update, peppers

Peppers are coming right along in the Gutter Garden – August 2018

I built the gutter garden this year in order to give some additional growing space in my garden.  I added two 10′ vinyl gutters to my chain link fence. I planted onions, peppers and basil in these gutters.

The pepper plants are doing quite well, and I have several peppers growing on these plants.  I will be adding these to my spicy September salsa!

The basil held out for a while, but the downy mildew has attacked these plants as well.  I actually let the basil bolt in order to attract pollinators to the garden (bees love basil).

The onions just never got much bigger.  I need to study up on how to grow onions because I just can’t grow a decent-sized onion to save my salsa.  The onions grew a little bigger, but you can get much bigger and better onions at the grocery store.  Womp Womp!

It is time to clear the basil and the onions and prepare for greens in these beds!  Overall, I am pleased with the gutter garden, and I will keep it next year.

Fall Planting Strategy

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My 2018 Garden Plan

Fall and the first frost are coming rapidly.  It is time to get moving on fall crops to finish the year strong. As I look back on my 2018 Garden Plan, I realize that my thoughts about Early Spring (Stage 1) crops were right on the money. Many of these crops, especially spinach, can weather the colder weather and frost.

I will be using my Early Spring (Stage 1) list for my Fall Planting Strategy (Stage 3).  I will be focusing on greens, particularly lettuce, arugula, kale and spinach.  I might grow some green onion as well.

While I would love to grow some cover crops this fall, I think I will hold off this season.  I will be replacing both garden beds, and my plan is to recycle this soil in my new wicking beds (or according to Doneil Freeman, irrigator beds).  I will remove the roots and use the existing soil as lower levels in my new wicking beds.  The top layers will be better, virgin compost material.

I will discuss these new wicking beds next week in our next garden blog post and podcast….so stay tuned.

Putting It All Together

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Irrigator Beds at Freeman Family Farm – May 2018

The key now is to get moving and get some seeds planted.  Fall and the frost are coming, and if we don’t move quickly, we won’t have a late season crop.  At this point, we need to adopt market garden and urban farmer techniques and grow quick-growing crops: greens, spinach, arugula, kale and radishes.

The tomatoes and peppers are still coming, and I don’t want to pull them yet.  The key is removing or harvesting  what we can, and getting new transplants into the ground relatively soon.  Take a look at those plants on my Early Spring List above, and get moving.

Time is running out; winter is coming!