Here's how I decide what goes into each pile.
Trash - bag it and tag it!
This plant material is of no use to anyone:
- If the plant is diseased it is trash. Many diseases lay dormant in the soil, ready to strike again. The last thing you want to do is add these plants to your compost or to your city or town compost. My tomato and squash plants suffer from disease every year. I take no chances and trash all my tomato plants and only put healthy parts of squash vines in the lawn bag pile. I use an abundance of caution and never compost even seemingly healthy tomato or squash plants.
- Fruit and veggies that are moldy or showing signs of disease.
Lawn Bags- seeds and weeds
Leaving lawn bags full of yard waste for the city recycle truck is like making a donation to your community! In this pile I put:
- Plants that have gone to seed such as dead headed flowers and vegetable seed heads.
- Weeds with flowers or seeds.
- Branches and organic material that will take forever to decompose, as well as excess pine needles.
- Squished veggies that contain seeds, such as tomatoes or peppers, belong in this pile, too.
Compost - death by natural causes, trimmings, seed free
This is the pile for the good stuff!
- Plants that are dead or dying but not struck down by disease, belong here.
- Healthy pruned branches and leaves.
- No seeds please!
- Twigs and a small amount of pine needles (no more than 20% of the compost pile) are great additions.
- Veggies without seeds such as past its prime cabbage or yellowed Swiss chard leaves can be composted.
- Grass clippings are great compost material as long as none of the grass has gone to seed.
With all this extra plant material removed from the garden, there is room for kale and cabbage transplants and a fall sowing of lettuce seeds. I knew there had to be a good reason for all that hard work!
See you in the garden,
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