ows and farm gardens go together. The photo below shows my dad and brother making green chop for the cows. What a lash-up. An Allis Chalmers tractor and forage harvester towing a Farquhar manure spreader for holding and then delivering the green chop to the cows. The only crop we harvest on any scale now for the cows is grass hay for winter feeding. Otherwise they do the harvesting themselves by grazing.
However, the garden still needs some clean-up after certain crops. I under-seed cover crop into existing crops that will remain in the garden over winter, but some crops like corn or some of the brassicas I remove. My criteria on what to remove? Anything the cows will eat that isn’t too much of a job to handle. It also gives the soil somewhat of a rotation too if you remove some of the crop residue, and allows for ease of planting a cover crop.
Obviously if you didn’t have livestock to utilize the plant waste, you could add it to your compost pile, or leave the residue where it is to break down over winter. Personally I’m a firm believer that livestock are an integral part of a vegetable operation/garden for the nutrient rich manure they provide. I think the corn stalks will add more food value in the manure than if I just left them to rot in the garden. Plus the cows love the taste treat as you can see in the photos above, cows watching in all three pictures.
I am going to the cow herd anyway to deliver water, it simplifies my garden cleanup tasks by loading the pickup with spent plants rather than making multiple wheelbarrow trips to the compost pile. For big jobs like the corn patch or a row of cauliflower I choose to feed the plants to the cows, rather than meter out the plants to the hens who get all the daily vegetable trimmings plus the house compost anyway.
Pigs would also be a natural outlet for garden residue, but I decided not to raise pigs this year so the cows are getting the spoils, and I’m getting a cleaned up garden, which has now been under-seeded with cover crop.
Are gardens done in your area or can you still eke out some harvest?