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Gardening

Prepping the Homestead for Fall – Checklist

Now is the time to prep.

Fall is peak harvest season, which means your days will be busy harvesting and preparing for the frigid winter months. You’re going to be go, go, go – prepping the homestead for fall, so you want to take advantage of this time. 

Use this list of things to do when prepping the homestead for fall. 

A person pulling carrots from the ground in their garden.

Prepare the Garden

These weeks will likely be some of your best all year. That’s why it is necessary to work in the garden every day.

Not only will the temperatures be ideal for working the garden, but there will also be plenty to do to keep you busy. 

  • Test your soil. Fall is the ideal time to test the soil. According to Ohio State University, “1) soils often have an ideal moisture range that makes sampling easy, 2) it gives producers ample time to apply fertilizer or lime before the next crop, and 3) it helps ensure spring planting will not be delayed.”
  • Plant fast-growing root crops for fall harvest. Now is the time to plant fast-growing root crops, such as radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips. These crops can begin while the soil is still warm but continue to grow when the soil is cool. 
  • Transplant or direct seed gardening crops. Depending on your USDA zone, it may be time for you to transplant or direct seed your fall and winter crops.
  • Direct seed greens. This is the ideal time to direct seed greens, such as kale, Swiss chard, and lettuce, for the fall. 
  • Stop watering dry beans. Allow dry beans to dry on the plant. Then, harvest and shell them for dry storage. 

[Related Read: Month-by-Month Winter Homestead To-Do List]

Cows grazing in a pasture.

Prepare the Animals

We can’t talk about prepping the homestead for fall without mentioning livestock and other animals.

You should continue caring for your homestead animals as usual. 

However, if you raise animals for food on your homestead, it’s time to make some difficult decisions.

  • Perform a midsummer cull. If you have females that aren’t performing, fattening, or reproducing as you’d like, consider sending them to auction or the processor. This is a way to provide enough pasture through the colder months for your remaining animals. 
  • Start meat chickens. If you want to butcher chickens for meat in the fall, it is time to start chicks. You want to have around 8 to 12 weeks before you plan to process them. 

Prepare the Food Supply

We are approaching peak harvest season.

You don’t want any of the fruit and vegetables you worked so hard for to go to waste.

This means the next few weeks will entail lots of harvesting and preserving food. 

  • Harvest fruit. Summer fruits are ripe for picking. Begin the process of picking them and preserving them. 
  • Harvest storage crops. Storage crops, such as potatoes and other root vegetables, are those that you can store and enjoy during the cold winter months. Now is the time to start harvesting them and preparing to store them for the winter.
  • Can tomatoes. It’s tomato season. Use these few weeks to get the most out of fresh tomatoes, such as making sauces and canning small batches. 
  • Enjoy apple season. September is the start of apple season. Pick plenty of apples to store and enjoy through the winter. 
  • Preserve food. As you continue to harvest fruits and vegetables, use different means to preserve food, such as canning, freezing, and dehydrating, to keep your family fed in the upcoming months. 

[Related Read: How to Preserve Eggs for Winter]

A man chopping firewood on the homestead in preparation for colder weather.

Prepare the Home and Land

When it is not too hot and not too cold, you want to complete as many projects as you can that may be affected by the weather.

  • Prepare for fall projects. Take time to consider your fall plans. What do you want to grow? Buy seeds now. What new skill do you want to learn? Check out library books. What new animals do you want to introduce to the homestead? Start researching. Think long-term. What needs to be accomplished before the first frost? Use the answers to these questions to plan for fall projects. 
  • Harvest herbs. It’s time to harvest and prep herbs such as parsley, rosemary, and mint. It is also the time when you can forage medicinal herbs, such as dandelion and mallow. 
  • Make herbal remedies. Cold and flu season are on the way. With that in mind, it is time to use the herbs you have to make herbal tinctures and harvest elderberries for elderberry syrup. 
  • Stock up on firewood. While the weather is ideal, stock up on firewood. It is much easier to chop wood and pile it in the woodshed when it is cool (not hot and not cold). You don’t want the wintry weather to sneak up on you and not have enough firewood to keep you warm. 
  • Work on outdoor building projects. If you have to do any outdoor repairs, such as mending fences, patching roofs, or fixing chicken coops, do it while the weather is right. 

Ready your greenhouse. See How to Get Your Greenhouse Winter-Ready.

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