Turning leaves signal it is time for end of season housekeeping in my garden. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the garden with fewer bugs, cooler temps and performing tasks that only feel more permanent now, like weeding. When you pull them out, they don’t spring back in three days.
Weeding isn’t all that I do. I harvest any late ripening tomatoes, find missed potatoes and store winter squash. I plant garlic and onions. The garden debris gets piled in the chicken pen. Chickens cannot resist digging and scratching through the weed mound. They spend happy hours shredding and spreading it. I re-pile it the next day and to their delighted amazement- a “new” pile to forage through!
Next in the garden, I stir in a layer of homemade mature compost. Then I rake and smooth out my soil. In about seven days, at this time of year there is no hurry, I flame weed any plants that sprout. I wait and flame weed again after seven days. Then I spread my cover crop seeds. In the spring, I will cut and dig the cover crops into the soil or feed them to the chickens.
The fall housekeeping chores are normally finished at this point. However, this year was a little different, because after I planted my cover crops, I noticed my neighbor’s new free-range marauding horde of chickens discovered my cover crop seeds and promptly ate them.
Word must have spread through our little neighborhood because "George" my other neighbor's Alpaca decided he had to check out my garden too. So I seeded, added some barriers and ran a single strand of electric wire to reduce seed snatching raids and soil stomping fests from recurring. I’m not too bothered by the critters. They are just doing what is natural to them. They aren’t eating my food and they gave me an excuse to spend a few more enjoyable hours in my garden before it goes to sleep.