On the last day of our 12 week master gardener program, several students and I were assigned to give a 3 minute presentation. My topic was “putting your garden to rest”; a topic I needed to learn more about. In years past, I have been guilty of running out of steam and spending as little time as possible cleaning up my plot before winter sets in. I usually remove the old plants and compost in situ. I collect up the tomato cages, roll up the hoses and go home.
Reading up on this topic was eye-opening and made me realize that I need to pay some attention to certain steps that might create a better spring planting season. Here are some things I learned:
- Remove annual crops and trim perennials; chop up and compost
- Remove diseased plants like tomato vines and those infested with pests
- Fortify soil with chopped up leaves, compost, grass clippings
- Till soil 4-6 inches with pitch fork to disrupt any pests at burrowed underneath — wait until after several frosts
- Plant cover crops like hairy vetch and winter rye in October, turn under in April before they go to seed
- Clean garden tools with brush, oil handles and store in dry sand
- Drain and remove hoses; put away tomato cages
- Prepare area for planting cold crops in spring
- Assess what went right and what went wrong
As sad as it is to see the class end, this last day was a lot of fun. The presentations were interesting and informative. The potluck food was delicious. And Emily Frost’s trouble shooting discussion and group exercise were very thought provoking. Having been in the thick of Rosedale’s leadership transition this last year, I can certainly attest to challenges of working with a variety of strong personalities in a community garden.
I especially enjoyed the variety of visual aids from Sharon’s brightly colored posters of 6 tips for organic gardening to Ruben’s 3 M’s — Mulch, Microorganisms, Moisture to Nick’s presentation about olla’s and Rosedale’s upcoming workshop of using this ancient form of irrigation. I look forward to the next phase of becoming a master community gardener which involves putting in 30 hours of service. I am excited to reconvene with the group this summer and in the autumn to share stories and experiences. Thank you to Shannon Spurlock, coordinator of the program, for a wonderful experience.