Cleaning Up the Vegetable Garden

I began the first part of cleaning up the vegetable garden and preparing it for winter today. The summer garden went much longer last year and we had tomatoes until the end of the October. Unfortunately that's not the case this year. The few tomatoes that were left on the vines were not worth waiting for them to ripen. Besides it's good to have an excuse for fried green tomatoes!

While my daughters and I were out in the garden I pulled the vines and they ran around with empty nursery pots trying to find good tomatoes to gather. I'm afraid the pickings were slim. I managed to clean out the large 4'x8' bed (not the fall vegetable bed), a 4'x6' bed and a 2'x4' bed, all of which housed tomatoes. I won't do tomatoes again in those beds as I try to rotate crops each year. The leftover vines were dumped in piles where they currently remain until I get around to dealing with them.

With the beds cleared out I have a few options: plant a cover crop, solarize the beds to kill off any diseases, or plant some more frost tolerant vegetables like kale, cabbage, or spinach. If I replant the beds I'd better do it soon as the time is moving fast but row covers should help extend the season. When I get the chance I'll plant some garlic in the small 2'x4' bed.

While cleaning up the garden we cleaned out a few of the vegetables. It was interesting to find carrots in the garden that I planted from seed in the spring. They were completely covered by the tomatoes and I just left them in the beds. They aren't the prettiest looking carrots you'll ever see but they do taste good!

We picked a small assortment of carrots, tomatoes (mostly green), radishes, and a couple cayenne peppers. I must have a hundred cayenne peppers ready to be picked still in the garden. I'll never use them all! I like to put a few in a homemade deer repellent that works fairly well (chopped cayenne pepper, garlic, dish soap, and water). I spray it onto my most prized plants and with one bite of it the deer learn to avoid the plant.

What have you harvested lately?

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