Introduction: Spring Cleaning the Organic Garden


I got caught off guard last fall, I didn't get the garden cleaned up. The gales of November came early. Landscape fabric is a godsend to the organic gardener. Not so, if you walk on it all summer ,then leave it down all winter.

Step 1: Clean It All Up

Pull out all the wires if you can find them all. The fabric is intact enough to see where the wires should be. Remove all the bits and pieces as you go.

Step 2: Tomato Vine Time

The tomato vines have to go. The Velcro ties get saved for the next crop.

Step 3: Now for the Fabric

After cleaning beside the tomato cages, I pull the bottom edges away from the inner fabric and roll it up.

Step 4: Now for the Cucumber Trellis

My cucumber trellis is pretty large but I can pull up the corners enough to install and remove fabric. The area beside it had cabbage last season.

Step 5: Nice Job

I've dumped my bucket and hauled the bundles many times today. I'll save my wires and ties for later.

Step 6: The Vines Gotta Go

The cucumber vines have to be removed. Keeping the vines off the ground stops disease. Before using the trellises, ,we couldn't grow cucumbers organically. We still get downy mildew, but late in the season. Getting rid of the diseased vines is a must.

Step 7: Not So Fast

Pulling the vines is great, but not great enough. The little curly bits that help the vine hold on, have to go as well. There are lots of them to remove. Its all part of organic gardening.

Step 8: Good Sign

I love it when I see these garden helpers.

Step 9: Rake It Up

Now I rake everything up and haul it out back to my burn pile.

Step 10: Hop to It

Now for the hops. I grow hops horizontally like grapes. They come out easily in the spring. I cut the strings and pull them free of the vines. The vines break off at ground level with little effort.

Step 11: New Growth

As you can see, new growth has begun. Once the vines are reaching out, I'll put new strings up for them to climb.

Step 12: One Last Trip

Well that's Phase one complete. One last trip to the pile, then retire the wheel barrow and rake for the day.

Step 13: Phase Two

I'm gonna need the tractor and fork lift attachment for the next phase. If you ever entertain the idea of buying a piece of property, make sure you include the cost of a tractor and some implements into your calculations. I use the quick disconnect bucket and forks quite a bit. A snow blower and rototiller are also a must.

Step 14: Remove Tomato Cages

My tomato cages are quite heavy. They came from a pig farm that was being decommissioned. Most of the bars are solid steel. I would estimate 80lbs or so. I take careful aim. Once in the top opening, I remove the wire holding them together. Then a simple tip up and Bobs your uncle.

Step 15: Stow and Go

As easily as they slid on the forks, they slide back off. I just tip the forks a bit then physically push them off by hand. I kick the bottom end in just before they slip off the forks. Nothing to it. Now back for more.

Step 16: Now the Big Guns

The trellises I use are portable construction fence panels. I bought them when I was farming emu. Those birds can jump over 6ft fence. When I priced out 8ft chain link I found I was better off to use these. When I no longer farmed emu, I wasn't stuck with a bunch of chain link. I took these with me when I moved. Portable is a bit of a stretch though. These are a bit of a pain to move around. I did figure out a way to do it by myself though. It takes two people to put them up though. A piece of 4X4 keeps them from bending.

Step 17: Knock Em Down

I remove the wires holding them together. I then enter at my own risk. When farming everything is risky in some way. I give one panel the cold shoulder and the other a good shove. With one on the ground the other is manageable.

Step 18: What a Drag

I drag the panel I'm holding across the one lying on the ground. I try to walk across the center support so I don't bend the mesh. Then I pull the other panel up on top and center them on the forks, with the 4X4 spanning the width.

Step 19: Secure and Go

Now I lift the forks and tip them slightly. I want the main frame of the panel to be sitting on the forks. Once in that position, I chain the bars to the forks and lift. Works like a charm. Now off to collect the other panels.

Step 20: I Have an Idea!

I didn't want to slam the first panel down onto the pile in a free fall. I had a long handle shovel beside the garden, and thought it might be of use. Nice I was able to place both panels on the pile gently and quietly. I"ll leave them beside the spot where I'll erect them this season. Its to early to start tilling, and I don't have my landscape fabric yet any way.

Step 21: Another Job Well Done

So there it is phase two complete. Phase three will be tilling, in a month or so.

Step 22: One More Chore

I know its only the end of March but organic gardening has already begun for me. While others are longing for the 24th of May weekend to plant, I'm already weeding. The garlic went in mid September and now cleaning the weeds out every day or two is a good idea. It only takes a bit of effort when they're small.

Step 23: Testing One Two Three

I couldn't resist testing out the tiller before putting the tractor away. I swapped the snow blower out for it the other day. One pass on the edge of the squash / hay field border. It works like a dream, I can't wait for the season to begin.

Step 24: My Next Spring Cleaning Project

Spring cleaning 11 acres can be a lot of work. I'm leaving this task for another day.

Happy Instructabling!

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