Fall leaves being collected

6 Tips for Post-Harvest Garden Care

Proper garden care is important, but particularly after harvest season has come to a close. This time of year is perfect for pulling spent plants, cleaning up around the garden, and planning your grow for next season!

Before you start your end-of-season garden care, make sure the last of your harvest has been pulled from the vines. Check out GeoPot’s blogs on harvesting container garden vegetables for harvest tips!

Once you’re done harvesting, here are our 6 tips for post-harvest garden care:

1. Remove Plants

One of the most vital steps to caring for your garden after harvest season is removing the old plants from the plot. Whether you’re growing in the ground, raised beds, or containers, make sure you’re setting yourself up for an easy start to the next season by removing all of the dead and dying plants from the soil. Summer annuals like zucchini and tomatoes won’t last through the winter, so it’s best to take them out of the ground as soon as they stop producing. Compost what you can, but remember to toss weeds that have bolted to seed and any plants infected with disease straight into the garden waste bin to keep your compost clean for future use.

2. Replenish Soil

The end of the harvest season is the perfect time to give your soil a refresh for your next grow, especially if you plan to have a fall or winter garden! Once your beds are clear of weeds and old plants, and you’ve thrown out any soil contaminated with disease or pests, amend your soil with homemade compost or a slow-release fertilizer like GeoFlora VEG or Geoflora BLOOM to get it ready for the next growing season. 

Hand holding geoflora nutrients

This is the most important time of year to give your soil a boost of nutrients because, after a long season of growing, your soil is spent! Geoflora Nutrients are organic granular fertilizers that can be tilled into your soil to refresh it with the vital nutrients and microbes your future plants will need to thrive. Allowing your fertilizer to work into the soil over winter is an excellent way to ensure that your plants have the nutrients they need immediately available in the following season. Keep your leftover Geoflora Nutrients around because once you start growing again you can use them as a top dress fertilizer too!

3. Mulch

Mulching is an integral part of garden care, especially when you’re prepping your plot for winter rest. Mulch is a great way to ensure that your soil stays warmer over the winter months, allowing nutrients to break down over time, and is even a great way to keep weeds from taking root in your garden before the season starts. Did you know that the fall leaves from your trees make a great mulch and component for compost? If you can’t get to the store for bark mulch, collect the leaves and lawn clippings from your mower and use them instead. This trick will give you the benefits of a mulch combined with an added boost of nutrients as the cuttings decompose!

Gloved hand trimming plants

4. Perennial Care

Perennial plants stick around from season to season and need proper care to successfully survive the winter and produce the following spring. Take care of your perennial vines and brambles by cutting them back to the few strongest canes--this keeps them from growing out of control and encourages healthy root growth. Perennial vegetables such as artichoke and asparagus should be trimmed to around 6” from the ground to encourage new growth in the next season. Keep your perennial flowers happy through winter by deadheading wilted buds and trimming back weak stalks. 

Fertilize your perennials by top-dressing the soil with compost or a slow-release granular fertilizer like Geoflora to replenish the nutrients they’ve been using all season. Then, make sure to insulate the roots with mulch to ensure that your perennials survive the colder temperatures of winter!

5. Clean and Store Supplies, Tools, and Pots

Packing away your garden supplies for winter can be daunting, but it’s important to keep your necessities functional for the next season. Extra soil and fertilizer should be sealed and stored in a cool, dry place to overwinter, away from pests and damp areas of the yard. Seeds and bulbs you’re not ready to plant should be placed inside and out of the weather. 

Keep your tools functioning for years to come with proper cleaning and storage during damp winter months by following these tips: 

  • Clean your tools of all soil and plant residue with warm soapy water or alcohol to disinfect and prevent any diseases from overwintering on your gear. 

  • Clean your leather gloves with oil or leather cleaner, and throw your fabric gloves in the washing machine. 

  • Empty your watering cans to ensure water-loving bugs like mosquitos don’t make a home out of them. 

Tools and pots

  • Tuck away all of your tools out of the weather to keep them from rusting or rotting. 

  • Finally, make sure your newly emptied pots are washed with soapy water and stored upside down out of the way to keep them from collecting dead leaves and detritus. If you have GeoPot Fabric Pots, take a look at GeoPot’s blog post on how to clean and disinfect fabric pots.  

6. Plan for Spring

The best part of post-harvest garden care is planning next season’s crops! This is a good time to reflect on your last growing season and make note of what plants did well and what failed to produce so that you can go into your next grow prepared to get the most out of your garden. Make a list of the seeds you still have, plants you’d like to try next, areas of the garden that had too much sun or shade, and also consider what pests showed up. This data will help you determine where to plant, how to fertilize, and what pest control products you need to make your harvest go even better next year. This may even be the right time to start some seeds to get ready for transplant in early spring! If your winter season is typically short, starting your seeds indoors now can give you a leg up on the growing season with vigorous and well-established starts to plant outside when the weather warms. 

We hope this list of tips for post-harvest garden care will get you through the end of the year and help you prepare for spring.