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After & Before: Putting the Vegetable Garden To Bed

September 6, 2013

I’m going a little backward today.  The primary reason is that this Before and After project is going to be After and then Before (if you actually want to click on it…) is because I just can’t bear to look at the before for one more minute.

This project is in my vegetable garden and after taking the summer to write a book, it is so neglected that I have started observing it as a laboratory for examining how quickly and succinctly the wild reverts.  I have been staring at it all summer, longingly, and then walking inside to sit back down at the computer to keep writing.  It has been that kind of season….

So this is what it looks like now after a heavy duty hour of weed pulling (whew….the exercise feels so good!).

before and after fall cleanup and vegetable garden dressing from

I am so pleased that this bed is tucked in and ready for winter and next spring.  I used regular landscape fabric as opposed to black plastic (which is commonly used by commercial growers for weed control in beds like this).  I am not a fan of putting things like back plastic in my garden – it always ends up being a nuisance.   But I am experimenting a little here; I think that landscape fabric will help accomplish many of the same goals as the plastic but without some of the adverse side effects.

before and after fall cleanup and vegetable garden dressing from

Black plastic is impermeable and it can also overheat the soil, killing as many good things as bad, beneath.  On the up-side though it does control weeds, it does break down organic material beneath it faster, and it does help the soil warm earlier in the season allowing for longer planting time.   So will landscape fabric control weeds?  Yes, I am sure that it will, and I am also sure that it will not superheat the soil (it is grey, permeable, and slightly reflective).   But will it warm the soil early?  We will have to wait until spring to find out.

What you can’t see in this picture is that I have 4 other beds that look just like the before of this one. (ugh!) But as I get closer to my book deadline (only 24 days left!)  and have more time to spend remediating them and clearing them out for next year, I plan to try a little something different on each.

I am going to dress one in black plastic (I am scientist at heart….there must be a control), leave one alone (as in just pull the weeds), but I am also going to plant cover crops on one and then I plan to plant some fall/winter planted flower seeds on one (for next years farmers market flower booth!).   I’ll let you know how they all work out next year.

I am curious if you have planted cover crops before?  I am looking for one that I can cut back early and whose subsequent mulch will  then smother all those grass seeds that are everywhere?  Suggestions are heartily appreciated.

images by rochelle greayer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes.  This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year.   I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own.  See the other posts in this series. 

Fall Badge Rectangle

So you really want to see the before???? go through…

Here is the before….you can’t see it….but beneath all that weed grass was my vegetable garden.

before and after fall cleanup and vegetable garden dressing from


I am extending my plan though (because I have 4 other beds that look just like this one).




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  1. There is always next year. Life is about choices and the book was important. Live life with no regret, it is absolutely too heavy to drag around behind you.

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