Fall Clean Up

Last night, I taught my first community education gardening class, Preparing Your Garden for Winter, at Clark College's new Columbia Tech Center campus. I met a lovely mix of gardeners: a first time gardener that lives in my neighborhood, fellow Master Gardeners, and several gardeners that I've met when presenting at the Camas Library. We shared our experiences, laughed, and learned from each other. It was a fun two hours. 

 Princess Victory Louise Oriental Poppy seedhead

Princess Victory Louise Oriental Poppy seedhead

I told the class how my family prepared their gardens for winter when I was a child.

My grandparents would rip out their massive vegetable garden and pile it up beside the chipper. And then my Grandpa would drink beer and run the garden through the chipper back into the empty garden. My Grandma always sent me back inside to smack filberts with a hammer to keep me out of the way. I'm guessing that my Grandpa had a little too much fun with the chipper and his beer.

Now, I loved my Mom's method of fall clean up. She would build a giant bonfire in the center of the vegetable garden. (Yes, gasoline was involved in starting the blaze.) My dad would sit in a lawn chair with the garden hose in hand, just in case. The neighborhood kids would dance around the fire and we'd roast hot dogs and marshmallows for dinner. I'd go to bed with soot in my hair, a full belly and dirty feet. I loved fall cleanup. 

At the end of the class, I realized that my basic lesson wasn't about cleaning up the garden at all, which is what someone would expect. I encouraged the class to get a soil test, edit their gardens, move plants around, shop for more plants, and to go shop the garden container sales. Fall is a fun, busy, and creative time in the garden. 

Next week, we're going to divide a few plants, talk about seeds, sharpen our shovels and run through our November chore list. I'm looking forward to it.  

 a fading Japanese Anemone blooom

a fading Japanese Anemone blooom

There is still time to come join my Early Bird Plan for Next Year's Veggie Garden class starting on November 9th.  Details are here

So, what advice would you give to a class about fall gardening? I'd love to hear it!