Spending time doing things that don’t need to be done can make the fall cleanup take a lot more time than necessary. And fall cleanup’s bonus of organic material to add to your soil is overlooked by many gardeners.
I read something about cold setting in early (that’s December here in Virginia). If that’s true and the ground freezes I won’t be able to work the garden or borders. I want all of the cleanup done long before spring begins. I have a lot of other things planned that will occupy my time then.
If you don’t already, you may want to follow some of my time-saving tips when doing your cleanup.
- When taking up tomato vines and beans that were killed by the frost, I left them in the beds or paths. No diseases in my garden to worry about so it’s fine to let them decay in the beds. No bad result seen in over 30 years.
- Asparagus ferns are not all dead yet, but when they are I’ll cut the old growth and put it along the edges of the garden. Most articles you read advise not keeping it in the garden. But my plants are so healthy. And although I do have asparagus beetles from time to time, I don’t want to loose all that organic material and I don’t want to haul all that old growth. So I leave them along the other side of the garden to decay. Have never seen any bad results in over a decade. (Unless you call some volunteer asparagus bad results.)
- I’ve already pruned the fig bushes and the blueberries. Some of the branches from the fig bushes I can use to support my peas next spring. Since I don’t have a shredder to recycle the rest, I haul it to the trash. (I know. It seems like a shame. So if you have a shredder by all means use it.)
- I’m spot weeding as I go along. Weeds that have not seeded stay to decay right where I’ve pulled them up. I do take up the ground ivy or any wire grass since they can root again easily even after being uprooted. (Although – if Bill get’s to it before I do he will put it all in our cold compost pile. Everything I’ve ever read is against this because the pile does not get hot. BUT — the results have indicated that it works and the wire grass does decompose if its piled on top and exposed to the elements enough.) (You might want to do a test. If it works for you — its a lot more organic material not wasted.)
- Most late summer and fall perennials like the sedums, helianthus, heliopsis, daisies, and phlox are finished. I cut off the old growth and leave it to decay right in the bed where it falls. If the old growth is too large, just cut it into pieces. It feeds next years plants.
- Bill has raked all the leaves. If we had lots of time, we’d cut them with the lawn mower, then rake the remains up and put them in the garden. But since time is short Bill rakes, puts a good sized pile on a sheet of old plastic and pulls it to the garden. I spread them on the garden beds.
Next we’ll put straw on top of the leaves, old tomato vines, and beans that are on the beds. By spring, everything under the straw will have decayed and I can just pull back the straw and plant. After the garden is complete, we’ll put straw in the flower borders. It’ll go right over last years growth that I cut down.
Think of all the time I’ve saved by not having remove the old growth and weeds from the garden and compost them. And then think of all the time I’ve saved not having to haul it back as compost to feed my garden and borders. Nature does all that for me.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient and it’s a lot healthier.
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