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Yep.  No easy way to do this. It’s all gotta go. Time to clean slate and start over.  I know, in some areas, veggies are brimming for fall harvest.  In other areas, it’s time to let the garden wind down for winter rest.  Here in Phoenix, it’s time for second spring!  That’s pretty much what fall means for us in the southwest.  There is still time to squeeze in a quick crop harvest before our Christmas frost pops in.  In previous seasons, I’ve managed to carry over some veggies from the summer (like tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants) with a light pruning and some compost tea to recharge them for the fall.

Not this time.  Complete do-over.
Bye-bye okra.  Adios tomatillos.  So-log kale.

Lil’ long in the tooth, these guys.
My primary purpose for doing this is to not only make room for new veggies, but also to rebuild the soil level in my garden beds.  After a productive and exhausting summer, the compost-rich soil has diminished.  So I need to rebuild the soil level, which, in turn will add nutrients to the soil for my new crop.

That there’s quite a gap.  Them bugs been busy underground.

I start by pruning everything away, cutting them at the base.  I leave the root base of smaller plants in the ground.  The roots will breakdown and nourish the soil.

Well, almost clean slate. 2 tomatoes and 1 eggplant get the pardon.

Next, have to get the drip system out of the way.   (I’ll do another post later about that awesome drip system of mine you’re probably wondering about.)

Soaker drip line is safe from the pruners and shovel.

Now comes the fun part.  For me, that is – playing in the dirt!  I add a fresh layer of compost/soil on top to build the soil level back up.  This is my homegrown compost, sifted fine, and mixed with some garden dirt (clay).  I walk in the bed to compress the soil good, and add more if needed.

Adding little piles and spread around by hand.

After that, I reinstall the drip line.

In-line emitter soaker hose is the best!

Okay, now comes the real fun, planting the seeds.  I label my plant markers (well, eventually), but in case I don’t do so immediately, I always make sure to take pictures of my seed layout for reference.

Yummy goodies for salad!

 With my watering can I wet down the seeds then cover them with frost cover.  It’s my preferred material for a seed cover because it lets in lots of light, holds moisture in the soil, and it’s very easy to manage.  I use rebar rods to hold it in place (you can use pebbles, or whatever the wind won’t blow away). I can then just water right on top of the cloth cover to keep my seeds moist.

Seed cover keeping things cozy.

Depending on what’s seeds are planted, it should take about 5-10days for things to begin to germinate.

Only 4 days later, lettuce and broccoli poking their heads up!

I’m all ready with my fall crop of goodies, and I can start harvesting in about a month.  Yum Yum!

About Vynnie McDaniels

Better Living Through Gardening
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