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End of the season garden  RSS feed

 
Posts: 46
Location: Central Indiana
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So my question is what do I do with my garden at the end of the season.  I have a 4x8 bed that is 16in deep.  This is my first year and it is probably a sin but I filled it up with store bought plant food dirt.  What should I do at the end of the season to prepare for next year.  I don't want to till next year in the sense that I have no machinery.  Personally I was thinking of a no till method.  What experience do people have to share?
 
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Location: Middle Tennessee
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There are a number of different things you can do at the end of the season, and I'll mention a couple. I'll start by saying it doesn't have to be the end of the season. For some fall cool weather edibles, you can plant spinach and lettuce. Spinach is one of those champions of freezing weather, light freezing that is. Once it starts dipping below 25 degrees fahrenheit they start to burn and not like it. My fall/early winter spinach is the tastiest, and I like it much better than my spring spinach. Some freezing temperatures really up the sugar content in spinach, and they become sweet and delicious. But spinach has its limits, and the season doesn't have to end there. Garlic is something that can be planted in the fall and harvested the following late spring/early summer. I'm in Tennessee, and I'll sow my garlic cloves in november and harvest in may.

These are two things that can be grown in your garden that don't require cold frame or other type of cover. The season really never has to end, but it does have it's limits with what will grow well with the days being so short. If you're just wanting to get it ready for spring, simply mulching it with straw, hay or wood chips will provide all sorts of benefit to the soil beneath.
 
Jonathan Ward
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Interesting about the spinach.  I'll give that a try.  I was more thinking to be ready for next spring.  So for example right now I have tomatoes and peppers mostly.  At the end of the season I thought about cutting the stems at ground level and chopping the stalls and stems into about 3-5in pieces and placing them on the top of the bed.  Then I thought about covering it in a thin layer of dried grass or straw.  Would that work?  Then next year just dig or sow directly into the bed.
 
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Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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You can pick Brussels Sprouts in freezing temperatures in a snow storm. Or you could also wait out the storm and pick them later after a thaw. They take 78 to 110 days, I'd add a little time to make up for slow late growing. Enjoy!
 
James Freyr
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Jonathan Ward wrote:Interesting about the spinach.  I'll give that a try.  I was more thinking to be ready for next spring.  So for example right now I have tomatoes and peppers mostly.  At the end of the season I thought about cutting the stems at ground level and chopping the stalls and stems into about 3-5in pieces and placing them on the top of the bed.  Then I thought about covering it in a thin layer of dried grass or straw.  Would that work?  Then next year just dig or sow directly into the bed.



Yes this can work. Cutting the stalks at ground level is a great idea, and is actually what I do in fall with my warm season vegetables. This way the soil is left undisturbed and the roots decay in place, adding some organic matter back into the soil and feeding the soil microbial life. Here's the thing with chopping up the rest of the plant and leaving it on top of the garden bed. It's a good idea in theory, but if the plants had disease, doing this can leave the the pathogens right there in your garden ready to possibly infect next years plants. I like to compost my vegetable plant matter at the end of the season in a good hot (150f - 165f) compost pile, then once it's been composted into nice fluffy good smelling garden gold, I then put that back onto the surface of my garden.
 
Jonathan Ward
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Location: Central Indiana
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Oh yeah, didn't think about the diseases.  I had planned on rotating my crops so where i have tomatoes this year will be a separate bed next year, same with the peppers.  Unfortunately i don't have a compost pile.  HOA kinda frowns on them.  I had thought about maybe one of the self contained ones that just looks like a storage tub type thing but wasn't sure how good those were.

This is my first year planting a true garden (even though it's only 4x8 ) since i was a kid.  Had 13 acres back then and had more room.  There are things i want to try but the idea of tilling the land every year seems like a bad idea.  You're killing all the worms and things that help make your garden good....maybe that's just my thoughts.  Hoping to continue on these forums.  Everyone's been great and i really like some of the ideas.

~edited to fix a smiley face that didn't belong
 
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Location: Down the road and around the bend, Southern Ohio, Zone 6a/6b
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They worked well for me. The key is good sources of carbon and nitrogen. I had guinea pigs at the time and used their bedding: pine chips and paper pulp mixed with brown pellets and soaked in urine and water. I used a long stick sitting in middle of the container to keep the center from overheating, so like I would move the stick back and forth in different directions to maintain like a conical empty zone in the center. I could also look at and smell the stick to determine information about the layers of the pile such as moisture level, layer composition, and aerobicity. I also raked up my grass clippings and collected from my neighbors so I had excessive moisture. The empty space helped that to evaporate as well.

Speaking of which, another key aspect was leaving the lid off (particularly on warm days) to allow for water to evaporate and the bin to remain oxygenated. Basically if I lifted the lid in the morning and it dripped condensation I would leave it off for the day. I would also use crumpled sheets of newspaper to help absorb the moisture and provide an environment for the worms. The very bottom center would usually be anaerobic because of the heat and pressure and moisture, but the outer parts by the slots were nice and fluffy and black full of fat purple worms and big ol' rolypolys. Another thing that helped circulate air was laying down a thin bed of twigs before each dump of grass or guinea pig bedding.

oh yeah and I drink lots of water while puttering in the garden so of course I peed in the bin at least 6 times a day.

Good luck.
 
Jonathan Ward
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Location: Central Indiana
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Also, I'm looking at adding one to two more beds for next year.  My thought was building them at the end of the season rather than the start and lining the bottom w/ about 2 inches of branches/sticks and maybe some leaves then covering it with the dirt for the next season.  Maybe kinda like a mini-hugelkulture bed.  Is this better than doing it at the beginning of spring so that the sticks and stuff have a chance to absorb the winter snow melts?  Thoughts?  Anyone have experience with that?
 
Jonathan Ward
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Thought i'd toss in a couple of quick pictures of the garden in question.
First one is a wide shot of the garden.  The second one is my roma's up close.  Third picture is of the peppers.  On the left you have three bells in a row hiding the Thai Hot Chili behind them.  On the right you have a serano in the back with a golden cayenne in the front.  The small one in the middle is a Carolina Reaper that had a little transplant shock and hasn't caught up yet.
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