Homesteading To-Do List for Fall 2023
With fall on the way, you can finally look forward to a break from the heat. You can also look forward to changes on your homestead. Depending on where you live and the scope of your homesteading efforts, you’ll have a wide range of things to take care of in preparation for the cold weather months. Here’s a closer look at what your to-do list should consist of at this time of year.
Sow Your Fall/Winter Veggies
Depending on where you live, you might have enough time to get another crop of warmer-weather veggies in the ground. However, if winter is fast approaching, it’s time to get your cold-weather crops in the ground. That can include things like cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and so much more.
Some of these can be sown outdoors, but a winter greenhouse (heated or unheated) can help you extend your growing options considerably. You don’t have to go too big here, either. Something as simple as a basic cold frame can do wonders for your ability to enjoy fresh-grown vegetables even during winter.
Harvest Warm-Weather Crops
It’s also time to bring in the last of your warm-weather crops unless you live in the deep south where there’s no danger of frost. For most of the US, fall brings cold snaps that will kill those more delicate plants and damage your veggies.
Go ahead and harvest the last of your beans, peppers, and any tomatoes you might have left. That goes for your summer squash and zucchini, too. If you’re in danger of a hard frost, cover any fall greens that you have growing.
Canning as a Part of Your Homestead To-Do List
Canning is a great way to ensure that you have fresh, nutritious food even after the harvest. Right now, it’s important to keep up with your canning. You’re probably still recovering from the massive August harvest, but go ahead and put away your green beans, tomatoes, and anything else that can be canned so you’ll have access to it during the winter.
If you’re harvesting the last of your vegetables, now is a great time to make sure you’ll have plenty of seeds for next year. Leave some veggies on the plant to dry, then pick the dried ones and store them for spring.
Make a list of what seeds you have on hand (beans, corn, tomatoes, etc.), and keep them dry and organized so you can find them when it’s time for spring planting. You can also use that list to guide your purchasing, so you don’t double up on anything and still buy the seeds you’ll need for the coming year.
Spread Your Compost
Compost is a critical tool for your farmstead. It’s a free source of nitrogen and other nutrients, and it will enrich your soil without the need for artificial fertilizers. Now is the time to spread any ready compost in the garden. And when you cut down summer’s last veggies, toss them onto the compost pile to keep it going through the winter.
Plant Cover Crops
Rather than leaving your garden barren and sleeping, consider planting cover crops. These are things like winter wheat, oats, rye, vetch, or even clover that help improve your soil and suppress weeds.
When spring comes, you can till your cover crop into the soil (if you’re using the tilling method). If you’re going the no-till route, plant taller cover crops like wheat or oats and then cut them down in spring and leave them in place. They’ll decompose into the soil and provide more nutrients for your garden.
Care for the Coop – an Important To-Do List Item for Your Homestead
Most homesteaders raise chickens. They’re a valuable source of eggs and meat throughout the year. However, you need to care for them properly. Winter is a critical time, particularly for your coop.
Make sure you add a lamp on a timer to the coop so that your hens feel like the days are longer. That will keep them laying. You could be tempted to add a heat lamp, but most coops don’t need them. Plus, they can be fire hazards.
Go ahead and add a thick layer of litter to the chicken coop, too. Cover the floor and the nesting boxes with a healthy layer of mulch, straw, or whatever litter your girls prefer.
Finally, walk the coop and check that it’s ready for the coming cold weather. Your chickens will need a little airflow even during the depths of winter, but they don’t need too much. Cover any extraneous spaces with plastic bags or old feed bags.
Homesteading To-Do List Item – Check Your Fences
Before the snow flies, take the time to check your fences. Mend any that might be damaged or that you think might not make it through the winter. While you’re doing that, go ahead and check the outdoor lighting, particularly any that you’ll have set up in remote locations.
Check Your Fireplace/Wood Stove
Before the cold gets serious, go ahead, and make sure that your fireplace or wood-burning stove is clean and in good repair. You’ll probably want to clean the chimney, too, to remove any fire hazards and keep the air flowing well. The goal here is to make sure that your heat source is ready to go when the snow starts flying.
You should also have a ready supply of firewood that will last you for the entire winter. Ideally, you started stockpiling wood back during the spring to give it a chance to dry out before winter sets in.
Learn about Homesteading
Finally, if you’re not sure if homesteading is right for you, we’d like to invite you to the Sustainable Farm Conference in Franklin Tennessee. It will be Saturday, October 7, 2023, and you’ll learn all about homesteading basics, from food preservation and fermentation to sustainable housing and even generating a farm income on small properties. The conference will begin at 9 am and last until 4 pm, and the cost of attendance includes lunch and all the materials you’ll need.