Tips for Hardy Gardeners: clean it up or leave it? Plus leaves are the new currency

Oct 13, 2020

First-time vegetable gardener Ivy Vainio says a fond farewell. to her garden as she cleans up the remains of the tomatoes, cabbage, peas, cucumbers and collard greens. There's a list of her full harvest at the end of this piece.
Credit Arne Vainio. Used with permission.

Clean up/clean out your garden at the end of the season or leave it?

We talk about the advantages of both approaches, and Tom Kasper drops the bombshell that vegetable seeds left to sprout from previous years "don't stay true to type." 

Make of that what you will.

Credit Copyright Lisa Johnson.

On the other hand, leaving your garden alone can provide food and habitat for birds and little critters. Plus continue to provide you with great photo ops!

In other gardening news, Kasper opines," There's nothing like a steaming compost pile."

Tom Kasper's compost pile
Credit Tom Kasper. Used with permission.

Tom writes:

My compost pile. It contains all sorts of stuff including leaves, annuals, small sticks, compostable pots, paper,  cardboard,  and grass clippings. If turned regularly it will turn into dark, nutrient rich organic matter that is perfect for adding to existing gardens to improve the soil.

Here's Ivy's full report from the first garden she and husband Arne Vainio put in:

Just from our garden, we grew:

  •  26 tomato plants (canned 16 quarts of sauce/2 pints of sauce/4-2cups of roasted tomato sauce that we froze/ate many off the plants)
  • 4 heads of cabbage (made into sauerkraut/gave one head away)
  • 5 heads of collard greens (blanched and frozen/gave one head away)
  • 3 hills of potatoes (10 lbs)
  • 6 celery plants (we blanched and frozen)
  • grew small cute carrots that we just ate. Maybe 10 carrots total.
  • herbs- dried (pint each of oregano, parsley)
  • made several batches of basil pesto.
  • grew strawberries and ate them as they came in 
  • 34 half-pints of chokecherry jelly and crabapple jelly

 Other food preservation we did with farm produce gifted to us:

  • 15 quarts of dill pickles (we bought from road side market)
  • 27 jars of canned carrots 
  • 28 pints of pickled beets
  • we blanched and froze several jars of carrot and celery tops
  • we also made 8 jars of watermelon rind pickles from farm stand black diamond watermelons