what to do after harvest

tinabananaJuly 18, 2008

this is my first garden ever and i started it new this year. i am growing everything organic, and while i got a bit of a slow start this year i want to be prepared for next year. you can see pics below. this is right after we put it in and planted the tomato/pepper we started in the house: http://klearz.com/house.htm

i already have my compost bin going and plan on saving my leaves for next year to mulch with.

what i would like to know is the order of things after harvest. i live in canada, so lots of snow and very cold weather. i have mulched my garden with coco shells this year but will use leaves next year.

so later this summer/fall when i am done harvesting all my veggies (to be honest i dont even know when that will be!! im so new to all this). what is the next step?

step 1: what to do with left over plants? do i pull out everything? or do i just cut everything down to the ground? what do i do with the left over plants, do i leave them in the bed, or do i stick them in my compost bin?

step 2: i want to plant cover crop. how do i go about this? do i have to move all my mulch to sow, i really have no idea how that works.

step 3: killing the cover crop? canada winter should take care of this right? do i need to do anything before snow fall? should i mow down the cover crop before snow?

Step 4: spring time. what do i do then? no-tilling sounds good to me. by spring will the cover crop and last years mulch have decomposed? if not what do i do with it? do i start with a layer of wet news paper, then compost from my bin? i think i might have to buy more compost as i dont think my little bit will cover my small garden. maybe im not getting the whole no tilling thing?

step 5: what is it? what do i do in early spring when its too early to seed but early enough for weeds to start growing? do i put my mulch down first thing?

sooooo many questions, i hope someone can point me in the right direction. i LOVE my new garden, never done something like that in my life and never thought it would bring me such joy.

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1. Some of us pull everything out of the ground and put it into the compost while others of us see no reason to cart that stuff to the compost pile and then back so we leave that to get digested in the garden, amounts to the same thing one is just a bit less work than the other.
2. If you have a continuous mulch then a cover crop is not necessary, most of us that plant a cover crop/green manure crop do that where the soil would be left bare, although some will till in the mulch and plant that cover crop. Largely a waste of time and energy, however.
3. The major purpose of a cover crop is to protect the soil against erosion so you would not want one that would be winter killed and you would not want to mow it before the snow flys. However, that cover crop would need to be tilled in before spring planting, more maybe unnecessary work.
4. Rather than storing the leaves you accumulate this fall to use as mulch next spring put that on your gardens this fall so that work is done before next spring, and all the necessary work that entails, arrives. One more job out of the way now that will not be necessary then.
5. If a good mulch layer is down when the snow pack melts any "weeds" will have difficulty germinating and growing so they would not be a problem. One more job fall mulching has eliminated.
Ask those questions since that is the way we all learned.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 6:53AM
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wow thank you so much for that reply, your making it sound way way too easy!!!

i have 4 hanging baskets with strawberries in there. what should i do with those? just treat the same way as the garden? someone mentioned to me digging a hole in the garden and burying them in there, but that sounds like i would distrub my soil.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 10:18AM
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In my garden the hanging baskets either get taken inside for the winter or buried in some soil to help protect the plants roots from freezing. Your strawberry baskets should be buried and covered with mulch for the winter.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 7:04AM
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