Fall Raised Bed Garden Clean Up & Planting Garlic

The nights are getting longer & the weather is turning cooler, which means that a lot of my annual plants aren’t looking so hot anymore. All of my tomato plants have shriveled up & succumbed to the fall weather. On the other hand, it also means that it’s finally time to plant garlic! As a general rule, I plant my garlic immediately after I remove the tomato plants. When one departs the raised bed veggie garden, another replaces it. I like doing both gardening tasks on the same day as a kind of circle of life thing. Also, because both gardening tasks are so easy that it’s a no brainer to do one right after the other.

cleaning a raised bed garden picture
Tomatoes looking bad & marigolds looking fantastic. Yep, it’s time to clean this bed out.

First things first, I assessed my veggie garden, which has been looking more like a marigold garden for a few weeks now due to my veggie plants fading out. I planted marigolds from seed for this first time in the spring & they have grown far better & bigger than any marigold plants that I have ever bought. Usually, at this point, any store-bought marigold plants that I planted in the spring are struggling to stay alive, so I typically pull them with the tomatoes. However, this year’s Herculean marigolds are still thriving & there’s no way I’m yanking those pretties out of the garden. Which meant that I would have to dig around them in order to plant my garlic. You make due in order to keep your fall flowers flourishing.

dead tomato plants picture
It’s time to pull your tomato plants when they look extra crispy.

Tomato plant pulling was next. These guys are quite sad looking, as they always are once a light frost first appears. It’s interesting how tomato plants can go from looking like a jungle one month to sulky, leafless stems the next month. I put on my garden gloves & got to yanking the plants from the soil. Some plants are definitely rooted in more than others, but I pulled what I could & piled them on my lawn. I pulled what was left of my summer cucumber plants too, which were so dry that they were practically dust. Then, I removed the tomato cages from the bed & nestled them into one another. It gets far too cold here in the winter to leave the cages outside. To their hibernation spot they went, otherwise known as my garage.

pulled tomato vines picture
All vines, no leaves.
fall garden clean up picture
This picture pretty much captured the entire project.

I made sure to till as much of the soil with my shovel as I could. Like I said, I had to be careful of the marigolds & the fall peas that I planted from seed in the middle of my raised bed. I also tried to plant cucumbers from seed a few weeks ago, but the seedlings didn’t survive the cool nights. This meant that I had to till a lot more carefully than I normally do in the spring, since I usually remove everything in the bed. Tilling in the fall is an important step though & it shouldn’t be skipped. It helps keep the soil fluffy, plus it kills off any pests that might be hibernating in the soil. My tomatoes were nearly decimated by tomato hornworms last year & their eggs are known to overwinter in the soil only for them to wreak their havoc in the spring when they emerge. Luckily, the hornworms did not find my tomatoes this year, but you bet your biddy that I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that they never return.

marigolds in a raised bed picture
Transformation into marigold garden complete.

Next up was the garlic planting. Last year, I created a garlic planting tutorial, so I won’t get into a lot of details in regards to how I planted my garlic this year. It’s super easy to do & it’s one of my favorite gardening tasks (check out my 3 best tips for planting garlic). The hardest part about it was choosing where to plant the garlic cloves. As a good rule of thumb, you never want to plant garlic in the same place two years in a row. Garlic plants are heavy feeders which means that they take up a lot of nutrients in the soil. If you continue to plant garlic in the same place every year then your soil will be depleted of the needed nutrients & your garlic won’t reach its potential. This means smaller garlic bulbs in the summer & no one wants small garlic bulbs in the summer. So, I chose to plant my garlic in a section of my raised bed veggie garden that I have never garlic-ed before. It’s also the best place to grow tomatoes, but it’s also good practice to rotate your tomato plantings too.

seed garlic picture
I grew that garlic & I’m growing it again!
planting garlic picture
The garlic & their trenches.

I ended up planting 33 garlic cloves. All of the garlic that I planted was from some of the cloves that I saved from my summer garlic harvest. I was able to save one very large bulb of hardneck garlic & a few more humble softneck bulbs. I also ordered a few more garlic bulbs online a few days ago, so I’m still waiting for them to arrive. This was my first time ordering garlic online & I’m a little nervous about it. Reading their mixed reviews online made me even more nervous, but hopefully, they’ll grow just fine. I’m looking to plant about 60-70 garlic cloves this year since the 30 bulbs that I harvested this year just wasn’t enough. We just go through garlic so fast here. I plan to switch things up a bit & plant the online garlic near our grapes since there just won’t be enough room for them in the veggie garden.

planting seed garlic image
Garlic in the trenches.
Fall gardening image
All done, plus a sneaky boot for good measure!

Well, that was a satisfying gardening day. It’s always a bit sad to see the tomato plants go, but it’s nice to finally get the garlic planted. I still have a bunch of fall gardening projects left, like planting tulips & iris that I also bought online (fingers crossed that they grow well too) & removing all of my annual flowers once they fade out. Plus, there’s the endless raking of fall leaves that looms in my near future. But at least I can cross this fall project off of my list. Happy gardening, everyone!

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