The frost is STILL not quite on the pumpkin – our few light dips below freezing have not even killed the summer squash, I’m sorry to say.
So here are a few Garden Cleanup Tips:
* Before you start removing the evidence, make a rough map/ post mortem report that can be used for planning next year. Include relevant outside factors like deer predation – which you’d THINK you’d remember but if you’re like me you tend to have denial problems about the smaller, less painful losses.
It’s also helpful to note things like the amount of rain: lousy tomato taste, for example, may be blamed on too much water and the too little sun that implies. But that same rain is probably why the hollyhocks hit 10 feet.
* when removing sick plants, don’t forget to rake up underneath, especially around roses and peonies; diseased leaves are a prime place for badness to winter over. Put all possibly-infected ( or infested!) material deep in the woods or on the bonfire.
* Healthy garbage can go on the compost, along with the lawnmower-chopped leaves, but it’s even better to let it rot in place (lettuce, nasturtiums) or, if it has stiff stems, catch snow and protect crowns (echinacea, delphinium, most perennials).
* Better-to-leave-it notwithstanding, the combo of aesthetics and prep-for-next year does demand removal of spent annuals like basil and marigolds. If you can bear to take the extra time, it pays to cut them down, rather than yank them up; leaving roots in place helps preserve soil structure and minimize weeds.