Smart Fall Garden Clean-up
I love living where we have all four seasons. Even though fall is one of my favorite times of year, I always experience a bit of sadness when summer comes to an end. There will be no more tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers for another year.
Would you like to keep the same pathogens that invaded your garden this year from attacking your plants next year? The University of Minnesota Extension shares some helpful hints on their website for fall clean up: blog-yard-garden-news.extension.umn.edu/2018/08/fall-cleanup-key-to-reducing-risk-for.html
They suggest examining leaves of trees and shrubs for any sign of leaf spot. If you find any diseased leaves then rake them up or mulch them into your lawn. Next, look for discolored or cracked bark on branches. If you find cankers or other issues, then mark the branch with paint for pruning early next year.
Regarding flower gardens, check annuals and perennials for any sign of disease. For leaf spots on annuals, remove affected plants after a hard freeze. For leaf spots on perennials, cut them back to the ground and remove the diseased material.
For vegetable gardens, your course of action will depend on the size of your garden. For a small vegetable garden, remove all plants with symptoms of disease. For a larger garden, cut down the plants and bury them in the garden soil. If you choose the latter option, then remember to rotate your crops. For example, don’t plant members of the nightshade family, such as eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, in the same location each year.
You can spread healthy leaves that have fallen from your deciduous trees over the vegetable garden. This will help improve your soil and provide a habitat for pollinators.
The University of Minnesota Extension says not to put any landscape plant material into the garbage. They recommend a compost pile that heats up to 148° Fahrenheit. This will destroy the majority of plant pathogens and assist in breaking down the plant material.
Broomfield residents can also take their tree and shrub branches to the recycling center at 225 Commerce St. Pick up some free mulch when you are there: broomfield.org/1031/Tree-Branch-Recycling-Program
Remember that while it is important to remove diseased plant material, a lot of wildlife rely on your yard for food and shelter. Think about leaving flower stalks and grass heads containing seed and disease-free fallen leaves.
Lastly, don’t forget to make notes in your garden journal. Which plants did well? And which did not? Describe in detail what you liked or did not like about any of your new plants, especially the annuals. I also write down specific details about not only the health of certain vegetables, but if I enjoyed eating them.
This way I’ll know which ones to plant next year and which ones to pass on.
Kelley Rawlsky has an M.S. in horticulture and is the director of Bringing People and Plants Together, an organization dedicated to bringing horticulture education and therapy to the community. For more information: PeopleAndPlantsTogether @gmail.com or follow us on Facebook.