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12 things you can do this fall on your wild homestead

 
gardener
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Fall is here in the northern hemisphere and I bet you’re getting ready to put your garden to sleep for the winter. Perhaps you have a fall crop planted but did you know there are a bunch of things you can do now to boost your wild homestead come spring?

This week’s blog post—12 Ways to Boost Your Wild Homestead This Fall—covers 12 different actions you can take on your wild homestead this fall. These actions are broken into 4 core categories:

1. Building Soil
2. Preparing the Land for Planting
3. Planting Perennial Plants
4. Creating Space to Connect with Your Land

Each of these 12 actions will help ensure you have a more productive year next year then you did this year.

What actions do you take in the fall? Please leave a comment with your answer!

Building Soil



Make sure to check out the blog post for the other 3 categories but here are my recommendations for actions you can take this fall to build your soil.

1. Chop-and-drop
2. Place mulch on your soil
3. Place large woody debris on your soil

All 3 of these methods work on the same basic principles—they provide a cover on the soil to slow down evaporation and prevent erosion, they add organic material to the soil, and they provide shelter and food for beneficial soil life such as fungi

Chop-and-drop is the easiest to implement since it just involves returning any pruned plant material back to the soil. As you are pruning just chop it into small pieces and drop it onto the soil. It really is as simple as that.

This free mulch will return fertility to your soil and help ensure your soil stays moist and fertile come spring and summer.

But sometimes adding extra mulch is needed. In this case bringing in mulch from outside areas (either from other spots on your own wild homestead or from your neighbors) can be a great way to boost your wild homestead.

Fall is a great time for this because people are often getting rid of the leaves that fall on their property. I always make sure to get a couple hundred bags of fall leaves from my neighbors each year.

The 3rd action you can take is to add logs and large branches to the surface of your growing areas. These can shelter your plants from sun and wind and they create moist pockets underneath them. These sheltered and moist areas provide great habitat for beneficial soil life.

But the logs and branches also slowly breakdown and release nutrients back into the soil through the actions of fungi. This is especially true if the log and branches are partially buried each year from you adding fresh mulch (actions 1 and 2—see how this all relates?) around the log/branches.

These are just 3 of the 12 actions you can take this fall that are covered in the blog post. Make sure to check out the post to learn more!

What Actions Do You Take in the Fall?

So what do you think? Are you taking these actions on your wild homestead? Are you taking other actions not covered in this post?

Please leave a comment with your answer. I would love to hear from you!

While you are over on the blog most make sure to leave a comment! If you are the first to do so you will get a piece of pie! The pie will get you access to some special features on perimes, discounts at some vendors, and you can use it to purchase some products on the permies digital marketplace.

If you leave a comment on the blog post make sure to leave a post here on permies too so I can easily give you the slice of pie.

Thank you!
 
pollinator
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I'm putting large amounts of woody debris in windrows on slopes and along the downhill side of trails

P1080083.JPG
woody debris in windrows on slopes, use woody debris
woody debris in windrows on slopes, use woody debris
 
pollinator
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For me, fall means getting back to work on my dead hedge, as well as your excellent soil-building techniques.  If I get some tree branch posts hammered in before the ground freezes, I can work on the dead hedge in those long winter months where not much can be done outside.
 
Daron Williams
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Tyler – Nice, that should help control erosion issues. Might see some critters using those wood piles too!

Trace – Makes sense! Please share some pictures of your dead hedge as you work on it!
 
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In my Mediterranean climate I managed to get some summer plants like chillies to start growing mid-autumn in pots in a sunny spot as it was still hot some days, and some survived the winter for a head start in Spring.

I don’t have space for a greenhouse to start growing in winter, but starting them in autumn outside has worked for some plants. Next autumn I’ll try it on a larger scale so that hopefully I can get lots of strong summer plants ready for transplant early Spring. If they’re not as big as my hand when planted the slugs and harsh sun will kill them within days of transplanting.
 
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A person can really observe in the fall as well. The leaves are off the trees, the ground is not saturated like it is in the Spring, and so a person gets a really good idea of what the lay of the land is before snow arrives and messes it all up.

And of course fall is the time to apply lime to help increase the PH of the soil so that it is ready to go in the Spring (it takes several months for lime to start working)
 
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Hey, Daron! This question was sparked by your most recent blog post on chopping and dropping the vegetable garden after frost gets it. You mention that if you've observed a plant disease and have had a problem with it, you can choose to skip chopping and dropping it. Are there any plants or plant families you just don't treat in this way out of concern for generally or predictably high disease or pest pressure rates? For example, nightshades?

We recently chopped all our bean plants out of our gardens (we grow a LOT of beans as a staple crop). The plants are almost done drying and then we'll thresh them and return the dry plants to our sunken rows and beds as mulch. While waiting for them to dry, we seeded some winter greens, and I seeded some tomatoes and peppers at the same time to try out stratifying them in place over the winter. While doing this, we chopped and dropped this last year's other annuals (peppers, tomatillos, squash, basil, sesame -- dratted rodents got almost all the seed heads before we could -- sunflowers, cucumbers, etc.) and laid them down to mulch the new seeds. My partner did this with all of them. I found myself taking the tomatillo and pepper plants out of the garden out of habit (years of organic gardening and farming) and explained it to him as a probable disease vector, but the more I think about it, the more I think that might be silly. Not only might other plant material carry that disease anyway, but our ground freezes at least a little during our mid-altitude lower-latitude winters (during which we usually get at least a little rain and/or snow), and then we get the incredibly drying, often incredibly hot spring weather that runs until the start of our monsoon rains, hopefully in early July. Most green things (trees and shrubs being the exception) don't really get growing until the monsoon.

What do you all think?
 
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We dont have as much trees but more of shrubs, plants and creepers. I just let them die and weed out the leaves, are you advocating that they be cut up the branches and relaid as mulch? Arent there going to be diseases on the stems/stalks that will spread
 
Daron Williams
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Rahul Swain wrote:We dont have as much trees but more of shrubs, plants and creepers. I just let them die and weed out the leaves, are you advocating that they be cut up the branches and relaid as mulch? Arent there going to be diseases on the stems/stalks that will spread



In general chop and drop is a great method for building soil fertility. But I do leave dead standing plants for a bit to support beneficial insects that make use of them. Dead flower heads are a great food source for birds in the winter so I will also leave those up until the seeds are eaten. But in general I do cut up the branches and drop them as mulch.

As far as disease issues go the main question I have for you is was the plant killed by a disease? If it just died as part of the natural cycle of growth and die back that many plants have or it died for some other reason (critters ate the roots) then there is no disease risk from chop and drop.

The fungi and bacteria that consume dead plants are not the same ones that cause disease on living plants. If I have a plant die from a disease and I know that disease is a serious one then I will remove the material and hot compost or just put it down as chop and drop far away from the plants it was infecting. But the vast majority of the time when my plants die it's not from a disease so those I chop and drop with no fear.

Some diseases like powdery mildew may be present when a plant dies but I don't worry about common diseases like those. Common diseases like powdery mildew are everywhere already and chop and dropping a zucchini that got powdery mildew at the end of summer is not going to increase the occurrence of powdery mildew during the summer.

But if in doubt then look up the specific disease you are dealing with and see what is recommended to prevent it. Sometimes removing the diseased plant material is the best option but that is only the case in very specific situations.
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