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(See also: Preparing For Winter Part 2: Livestock Care)

For most of us gardeners, big transitions are upon us. With many folks already experiencing their first hard frosts in the North, we know that winter will be here before we know it! Although we might hope for the work to slowly wind down, there is still a bit to prepare before winter makes its debut. Now that the growing season is coming to a halt, these necessary fall preparations can all the difference come next spring.

Soil Prep, Part I

While it may be tempting to simply leave your dying summer crops in your beds, pulling, tilling, or burying your decaying annual crops is an important step in building a rich, healthy soil for the upcoming season. By removing or tilling your crop into your garden beds, you will be eliminating the chance of overwintering pests, such as the infamous earwigs and formidable squash bugs. Plant debris that remains on top of the garden beds provides a warm and dark hiding place for these insects that will return with vengeance come spring. When you till your crops in, you are also adding a rich source of organic matter that will have several months to decompose into dark, nutrient-dense soil that will invite more soil-friendly bacteria and worms. If you choose not to till your beds, be sure compost the removed plant debris for use in the garden next season.

Soil Prep, Part II

Fall is the best time of year to order a soil test. It’s important to research your options to find a soil test that will give you the information you need to make the right decisions in supplementing your soil. Some companies offering soil analysis will even provide feedback on the specific types of amendments you’ll need. Once you’ve tested and reviewed your soil analysis, amend your soil accordingly. Fall is an excellent time to get these necessary salts and minerals into the ground to give them time to break down without shocking any transplants that might otherwise happen in the springtime.

Overwintered Crops & Spring Bulbs

Depending on your USDA hardiness zone, you may be planning to keep growing a selection of crops through the winter. Early fall can be a great time to get your brassicas in the ground, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, and all types of kale. Winter greens, like spinach and arugula, can be direct seeded at this time, too. And, don’t forget to get your garlic and scallions in the ground now. You’ll be graciously rewarded with delicious garlic scapes come springtime. Also, now is the time to get spring flower bulbs into the ground, such as tulips, ranunculus, and daffodils, to ensure the earliest spring flower blooms.

Planning for Next Season

This time of year is bittersweet as the hard work of the summer season comes to a close and we begin to retreat for some much needed rest. But, as most gardeners know, the seasons move quickly, and it will be time to begin seedlings for next season before you know it! Using the down time of fall and winter to develop your crop plan for the upcoming year will be time worth spent. This gives you an opportunity to reflect on what went well this season and what needs to be adjusted for next year. Develop and write down a week to week or month to month plan that is easy to follow. Set new goals, and create an action plan or monthly checklist to help you stay motivated through the cold winter months. The work you do now will undoubtedly pay off come next season!

(See also: Preparing For Winter Part 2: Livestock Care)

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How To Have The Perfect Pamper Evening

by Erin Weaver

Life is hard and everyone has to deal with their personal smorgasbord of problems. For women who farm, these issues are usually compounded by a mixture of business stress, physical aches and pains, and long days of work. It’s great to plan a relaxing holiday or splash out on a spa day with friends when you get the chance, but what about the rest of the time? Well, that’s where pamper evenings come in.

A pamper evening is your at-home remedy for a bad day. It’s a vital way to take some time for yourself and recharge your batteries when you’re feeling down, or when you just want to treat yourself. If you can gather up a few hours and a bit of space, then you’ve got the makings of a good pamper evening already. But how can you make it a perfect one? Try some of these irresistible pamper night ingredients.

Check Out

Say no to work, say no to responsibilities, and say no to stress. Don’t worry, it’s just for a few hours! Emails, chores, family concerns, and anything else can do without you for one evening, so set them aside for now.

Turn Down The Lighting

This one seems like a cliché, but it’s really important. Low lighting helps to get your body ready for bed and bring about the sleepy, relaxed feeling you’re looking for in your pamper evening. Flick off the main light and switch to lamps and candles instead.

Take A Bath

Soak in the bath or take a long, hot shower and let your troubles melt away. Use your favorite soaps and scrubs while you’re washing, and spend some time massaging a good moisturizer into your skin afterwards. Get as clean as you possibly can so you’re feeling sparkly fresh by the time you leave the bathroom.

Grab A Soothing Drink

Look, there’s no judgement here! It could be an organic peppermint tea or a jumbo glass of red wine – as long as it delights your taste buds and soothes your soul, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your pamper night activities.

Do What Feels Good

Pick an activity that relaxes you and devote some time to it. Not something that you feel you should be doing, but something that really relieves your pressure. It could be reading a trashy novel, marathoning a new Netflix series, doing some yoga, or catching up on celebrity gossip. If it feels good, you’re on the right track.

Sleep

Don’t fall into any bad habits before you get into bed. You don’t really need to check your phone or send that last work email. The dishes in the sink can wait until tomorrow. The best end to a pamper evening is a good night’s sleep, so let yourself drift off in peace without interrupting your flow.

There’s nothing better than a pamper evening to put a pep in your step when you’re feeling drained. Having these tricks in your personal pampering toolbox will have you feeling great before you know it, so dim the lights, put your phone away, and get ready to relax.


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