With the signs of autumn all around us, it is time to winterize our gardens. The first step I’ve taken is to clean up my garden. There are leaves to rake up, dead plants to compost, and tools to repair.
I believe one of the most important things to do is rake up and dispose of any extra plant material. There are two kinds of plant material to be aware of at this time of year. That which you can compost, and that which you should not.
Weeds are often in the ‘should not’ category. Weeds should be disposed of as soon as possible. They like to let go of their seeds at this time of year and simply make for more weeds in the spring. Getting rid of them before they ‘go to seed’ is a good idea. I do not put weeds in my compost. Many seeds will be destroyed when in contact with a hot compost pile (over 131 °F) for over three days, but most home compost piles won’t get every bit of the pile in contact with the heat at the heart of the pile – thus the weed seeds tend to survive.
Diseased plants. I’ve had to deal with powdery mildew this year. This is another problem I’ve chosen not to compost. This disease often winters over, whether in leaves left on the ground, or in a compost pile. Other sources do allow for diseases to be killed in a compost pile, but with results as stated above. With powdery mildew, I just don’t take the chance. When I cull the dead, infected parts of the plant, they are immediately disposed of in a plastic bag.
Feel good about composting leaves, culled plants, & plants that are finished producing this year’s crop.