It’s getting cold outside, the leaves went from barely changing colour to on the ground in what feels like days. It was positively warm last weekend then POOF frost expected this weekend! You can try to postpone it’s chilling effects to your crops by covering your vegetables with old sheets or thin plastic sheeting cold nights. Unfortunately shorter light periods and cooler days will catch up soon and it will be time to clear your garden out for the season.
Certain vegetables and spices are cold tolerant and you should not need to pull these out right away. Carrots, garlic, leeks, parsnips, radishes, turnips, chives, thyme, even parsley, broccoli, kale and some lettuces will remain hardy for awhile.
Pull up tomato, cucumber, pea, pepper and bean plants, pretty much if it looks wilty and frost bitten you should yank it. If any showed signs of disease last season don’t even bother trying to compost them. They should be discarded off site so they can’t re-infect anything. Remove all cages, stakes, weeds and any other debris that might harbour fugitive spores plotting a repeat visit. Ensure to clean nearby mulch with great care as it is safe house number one for destructive pests and diseases.
Gently till or turnover the soil with a shovel to unearth any malicious insects who plan to spend the season wintering in your garden. Once you’ve pulled up the plants, cleaned the debris and tilled the soil it’s time for treatment. This can be as simple as adding a layer of manure or compost to the site. A one to two inch layer of compost on the surface of the soil prevents weeds, feeds any remaining cold season vegetables and provides force field with living organisms that eat disease spores as they land. Or, you may be considering adding something more specific such as lime. Why might you want to add lime you ask? Well if you found your garden under-producing this year it could have been a PH problem. Most vegetables prefer a value between 6 and 7, so if you’re lacking in the PH department you may want to turn in some dolomitic lime. It’s best to add it now when vegetables won’t be shocked and then your patch will be prepared for spring.
Sadly the boom time of summer harvest is over. I have a few sad tomatoes and peppers I can’t bear to remove yet but it was a good season overall. Lots of tomato sauce, pickled peppers, pickles, jams and spice blends to store in the cold cellar and serve on those cold February nights when our precious vegetable patch is a far and distant memory. So long garden – see you next spring.