Less Noise, More Green: Fall Garden Clean Up: compost, lawn bag or trash?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Garden Clean Up: compost, lawn bag or trash?

Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash. gardening, urban farming
Time for some trash talk. I don't enjoy cleaning my garden any more than I like cleaning my house. It is certainly not the fun part of gardening but is a necessary evil and can prevent problems with disease in future seasons. When doing fall clean up, I follow the same strategy I use when purging my house, where I create three piles - keep, donate and trash. In the garden, this translates to compost, lawn bags for the recycle truck, and trash.

Here's how I decide what goes into each pile.



Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash. urban farming, gardening
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.
Once the black bags are full, I leave them in a sunny spot for the sun to cook the contents. The trash bin is their final destination.

Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash., gardening, urban farming
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.

Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash, urban farming, gardening
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,

Sue

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Fall Clean Up: what to compost, what to lawn bag and what to trash, urban farming, gardening





8 comments:

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  3. The first thing you need to do is remove all dead annuals, composting them in the process. You will need to do that no matter what, but you should also keep in mind that self-seeding plants will already have done what they need to grow anew. If you fail to prune back the perennials, you will likely have them looking pretty worse for wear as spring arrives.

    A lot of perennials will actually prefer to be left alone during the winter for the added protection. If you did leave the perennials standing during your last fall, once you start seeing new growth you’d need to start removing the winter mulch of yesteryear, pruning them all the way to ground level

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