As the growing season winds down in August, you may want to include a few cleanup chores so you won’t have such a large job at the end of the season.
Pull Plant Material
For any vegetables that have completed their production, remove them from the garden and put in the compost pile if they don’t have any diseases. Plant short cycle vegetables such as radishes, carrots, lettuces, and spinach, in their place or if you’re tired of the garden work, simply cover the bare soil with a deep layer of hay or straw so weeds won’t have a place to grow. Record when production finished in your garden journal.
Don’t Till – Compost
Whether you develop your own compost or buy it at the garden center, it will enhance your garden soil if you apply it when you pull the dead plants and cover the entire row or bed with straw or hay. You can also add some green (grass, food scraps) and brown (shredded leaves, old straw) under the compost. The compost will enrich the soil for your garden next year and you won’t have to till it. Tilling brings up weed seeds from deep in the soil and not only will they flourish, but they will be everywhere. Always try to avoid walking on your growing beds so they don’t get compacted.
Tomatoes should be well into production by now. You can pick tomatoes a day or two before they are ready and ripen them in a shallow box lined with newspaper. Fertilize with a tomato fertilizer every one or two weeks until frost kills the plant. Be on the lookout for yellowing leaves with brown spots that may signal early blight and remove those leaves from the plant and burn or put in the trash. Blight stays in the soil for about a year, so you won’t want to plant nightshade vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplant in soil where your blighted tomatoes were planted.
If the straw you put down on your walking paths in the garden is starting to thin out, now is a great time to add more straw. You want to protect the soil from those pesky weed seeds so you don’t spend all your time fighting them. If you walk through your garden every day and inspect your plants, you’ll be able to spot trouble and deal with it before it gets out of hand.