Veggie Garden Cleanup in Late Fall

We’re nearing the end of the veggie harvesting season with the coldest of cold hardy plants possibly still hanging on.  It’s time to move to the next phase in edible gardening – the cleanup and storage phase. 

It starts with the dismantling of garden structures such as trellices, tomato cages and hoops for floating row covers.  These can be taken out of the soil, cleaned and stacked for 2021.  Next, removal of the frost/freeze killed plants.  Inspect them for signs of serious insect feeding or disease infestation; if any are found, toss them into the trash, otherwise into the compost pile.  Pest free vegetable plant material is a welcome addition to a compost pile, as it mixes well with the tree leaves and grass clippings being collected now.

Once the hardware and plants have been processed, you have a choice of what to do with the soil – either leave it alone aka “no-till” or use a pitchfork to lightly loosen it and apply an inch of finished compost to work its way into the soil profile over the winter.  Make your choice based on the current level of organic matter.  If your most recent soil test says it’s sufficient go with no-till, otherwise take advantage of this time when no crop is in place to fortify the garden.

John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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