The Q&A Archives: Fall Cleanup

Question: What do I do: (1) clean up my beds of all plants and leaves so that insects will not over-winter in my vegetable garden or (2) leave a covering of plants and leaves to act as a mulch and provide food for the beneficial worms?

Answer: In my garden I like to remove the fallen leaves and plant debris and add them to the compost heap, always keeping an eye out for diseased material (rose leaves with black spot, fungus, mildew, etc.); this type of material should not be added to a compostheap or left in the garden. Any diseased material you find should be burned (if feasible) or completely disposed of otherwise. Before I started my compost heap (and when I say I have one, I am stretching a bit, it is a pitiful little mound I just started) I didn't like to leave all of that "stuff" just lying about my beds. I used to gather up all of the leaves and assorted plant material and run over it with a mulching mower. I then placed the material back on my beds to act as a nutrientrich mulch.

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