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As harvesting continues, the veg garden starts to empty and it may be tempting to take your foot off the pedal and leave it to its own devices. But as KG editor Steve Ott explains, a little attention now can pay big dividends next spring
Clean the glass or polythene and the framework to remove pests and algae

Aveg plot, polytunnel or greenhouse should never be completely empty – there are crops to be grown all year round, but the winterhardy stalwarts such as brassicas, leeks and overwintering onions can look increasingly lonely as the autumn takes hold.

Far from being a time to abandon the plot to the winter chill, autumn and early winter offer a real opportunity to ensure that you start the new season with as few pests and diseases as possible to attack next year’s sowings, and with soil which has been rejuvenated and ready to grow you better, bigger crops than ever. Sound like hard work? Fortunately, there are some great products to help you to make the task as easy as possible.

Top tip Weeds harbour many pests and diseases through the winter months. Keep weeding until cold weather prevents growth


The first essential is to remove all remnants of your previous crops: old leaves, stems and leftovers from recent pickings such as overripe tomato fruits and ‘volunteer’ potatoes (little tubers that tend to get missed or discarded when harvesting), all have to go. Left in place, they may harbour diseases – maybe even something as serious as potato or tomato blight – but will certainly become a nuisance when they pop up again in spring among your newly emerged rows of seedlings. A good rake to remove old leaves and stalks is a good first step. Healthy plant material can be added to the compost heap, any thick stalks being crushed with a hammer to help them break down. Diseased leaves are best added to the green waste bin for composting at high temperatures, or buried – for example in the bottom of the bean trench or on a spare piece of ground.

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This month : Get set to harvest - pick your perfect pumpkins plus harvesting kit on test 6-page special feature - pck crops of tasty berries 8 home-grown recipes to suit every taste Save £££ make your own handy crop covers 13 top tips to tidy your plot this autumn Instant savers & giveways - the case for organic seeds Juicy smoothies - grow your own health drinks + 7 Exclusive videos!