Why Do We Clean The Garden?

By Keith Markensen

For the serious plant person you should know by now that cleaning up your garden in the fall is mostly for aesthetic reasons, occasionally for garden sanitation. But plants don't have to have it done. So stop worrying that you haven't had a chance yet to cut off peony leaves, take the tops off the mums after they have been frozen, or cut back the delphiniums. After all, if they were growing wild the tops would stay on and the plants would still live and grow.

If there is disease it is a good thing to destroy the tops you cut off. Otherwise, put them in the compost pile and save all that organic matter for your garden in the future. The way some people rake their beds and clean them up, they do more harm than good by pulling out roots and tearing the plants apart.

Except for unsightly tall stems I leave them alone, so they gather all the oak leaves as they fall and hold them there for the winter. It's a lazy man's way but it works and besides, it gives one friend who is a very neat and orderly mathematician a wonderful chance to think that I'm the world's sloppiest gardener.

As you throw all of your leaves and garden trash on the compost pile or used a leaf blower to clean your garden, after each foot of material scatter in some insecticide or spray some neem oil. This serves two purposes: It should keep down many if not all the sowbugs (pillbugs) that love compost piles as their home and will keep out the earthworms which destroy so much of the organic matter. If you don't have enough leaves, gather in sawdust or shavings from any saw mill and mix them with your garden trash. It's lots cheaper than buying peat moss.

If you are the kind of gardener that leaves your wheelbarrow or garden cart out in the rain so that what you have in it gets soaking wet, why not drill a couple of quarter-inch holes in the bottom to let the rain drain out? - 29857

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