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Clean up Your Garden

You can do it on your own, but we have goat help

     The vegetable garden is waning especially as the nights get colder. It’s time to start cleaning it up to prepare for next spring.
     Start by drawing a plan of your garden so that you can rotate the plants next year. It’s great if you can devise a four-year rotation. Try not to plant the same family in the same spot for four years. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and potatoes are all in the same family. Beets and chard are in the same family. Kale, collards, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are all in the same family. Cucumbers and squash are also in one family.
     Now into the garden. Rake out all your plant debris, as it can harbor insect eggs and diseases. For example, squash vines can harbor bores and squash bug eggs. Cabbage, collards, broccoli and cauliflower that have stopped producing or have been eaten by cabbage caterpillars and harlequin bugs should all be pulled up. All of the debris can be composted.
     Run over the pile with a lawnmower to make smaller pieces that will compost faster. Stockpile your debris so that you can make a compost pile at least three feet tall and wide. Layer the brown materials, including tree leaves, with green or nitrogenous materials like grass clippings, chopped weeds and vegetable waste. Our goats contribute manure to the compost.
    A pile this big will heat up enough to kill weed seeds. Turn the pile regularly so it gets aerated.
    With our extended hot weather, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and okra are still producing. When our weather cools and these late vegetables turn brown, add them to your compost pile.
     I like to add a thin layer of finished compost and wood chips to my vegetable beds for the winter.
     It’s a good time to also start some lettuce for the fall. You can direct sow seeds or put in transplants.