Putting the garden to bed

Veg gardens are seasonal, and with the approach of cold weather comes the end of the season. After a difficult year of a soggy spring followed by a summer drought followed by spring-like rains to end up at a fairly normal average, the garden was in full mid-summer productivity when a cold snap stopped it. Unfortunately, no one had a chance to get out and harvest what was on the plants before they were frosted, and as a result an embarrassingly large amount of usably ripe produce was left on the plants.

At first glance I thought it just might be salvageable. I found a perfect looking cherry tomato and popped it in my mouth – only to spit it out in disgust an instant later. Although outwardly perfect, decay was already well underway inside. I then thought that I would at least pick what was left and add them to the compost pile. A perfectly firm looking green tomato was my first target, but as I gave it a twist to release it from the hold of the vine it turned to goo in my hand, most of which fell most inconveniently into the gap between my leg and the open top of my rubber boot. At this point I gave up on the idea of picking….

First to go were the wooden stakes holding up the tomato cages, then the cages. Next I wound the tangled vines like spaghetti around the tines of my pitchfork and carried them off, then pulled what I could of the remainder of the plants. The peppers came easily, but the eggplants were very firmly established and required a bit more effort to remove.

The resulting debris was raked as well as possible from the garden, and since I had the rake and there were plenty of leaves around I raked them into the garden. Finally a shallow pass with the tiller over the entire garden disturbed the weeds that had begun to grow and worked the leaves into the soil…. Ready for next spring.

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