Late Summer Garden Clean Up

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Late Summer Garden Clean Up

With summer winding down, we gardeners are caught in a bit of a limbo.

Our spring crops are long gone and the summer crops are winding down their production. Some of us (raising my hand) may even, in spite of our gratitude for a prolific harvest, be growing bored with plucking tomatoes from the vines.
It's still too early to put the strawberry plants and rose bushes to rest for the winter months. But we don't have to sit by idly, twiddling our thumbs and waiting for those first nights of heavy frost.

late summer garden clean up  2

This year, my boys and I decided to clean up our raised beds as the plants quit producing rather than waiting until late fall to do one big garden overhaul. It's our hope that our ambition will be paid off with healthier crops next year. Some of the things we've done:

  • removed plants that are no longer producing and transferred them to the compost pile rather than letting them turn completely brown and die back.
  • periodically turned the soil using the Fiskars D-Handle Compost / Mulch Fork and searched for plant villains that over-winter in soil in larval form.
  • removed lots and lots of small rocks which, although good for the texture of soil in normal amounts, can hinder roots from finding nutrients and water they need in excessive quantities. And they can make your carrots grow into really ugly shapes!
late summer garden clean up 3

Because of our early clean up, when it came time to plant late summer crops, dropping seeds in holes was the extent of our preparation. The broccoli seeds were perfectly content with their conditions. At least they were content until the night a long-eared furry hopping creature decided he needed a mid-night snack.

According to the planting guide for my local agricultural extension office, I'm a little over a week outside the recommended final planting date for broccoli. It doesn't hurt, however, to take a chance by planting new seed and hoping that fall weather will be kind. If not, we still have time to plant and enjoy a little more freshly-picked lettuce and spinach.