Cleaning Up the Vegetable Garden

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?


Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 5 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. This was our first year planting a garden. We had amazing tomatoes and green beans. We managed to get 4 green peppers. I was just thinking the other day it was time to pull it all up, it's starting to look rough.

  2. Cool, Dave! We had good luck with hot peppers this year, too, but have already moved all the ones in containers into the greenhouse for the winter. (Still harvesting from the in-ground ones, though!) You should make a ristra or two with all those cayenne peppers—they're so decorative and make great Christmas gifts!

  3. Very nice late harvest Dave!

  4. Tanna,

    Unfortunately "all good things must come to an end!" The cooler temperatures will be limiting the tomatoes that ripen at this point. Things are slowing down. We did good with the peppers this year. They did better than my tomatoes.


    I'll look into the rista. It might be an interesting project! I need a good and cheap way to dry them and the rista might work perfectly!

    Thanks Tina!

  5. What do you use Dave if you do solarize your raised beds? Will any plastic from the hardware work or something special?

  6. Shawn Ann,

    Try a clear plastic. It will let the sun in and hold it in place. Water the bed before you cover and leave it on for about 6 weeks. The only problem with solarization is it can kill off the good stuff too (good bacteria and earth worms). It's in discriminant. I would only do this in a spot that may have had disease problems like tomato blight. I'm leaning toward cover crops for most spots though. I like red clover!

  7. Just to be clear:

    "Try a clear plastic. It will let the sun in and hold it in place."

    It won't hold the sun, just the heat from it! 😉

  8. Thanks Dave. I was in wonder of which one to use.

  9. How fun for the girls, Dave. Running around doing anything on a nice fall day is fun. We have pulled most everything already and have planted some fall lettuce and kale, along with many leftover flower seeds scattered here and there. But the harvest comes from the red and yellow raspberries, they seem sweeter than earlier in the year. Yum!

  10. How do you solarize a garden?

    Also, any idea on how to deal with this crazy creeping grass (not sure what kind, we inherited it with the house)? It's roots are really viney and super long, so it's impossible to pull and rid the garden of it. It takes over all my beds and I can't get on top of it. Pulling it seems to make it grow faster.

    Thanks for the help!!

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