Composting over flower beds for winter - Knowledgebase Question

Staten Island, Ne
Question by mlyledavis
July 26, 2010
I want to compost shredded leaves, grass clippings, yellowed hosta and shredded tomato plants over my hosta and daylily beds that would have already gone dormant. This would be from late Fall (November)to early Spring (March). If I am conscientious in my composting and turn and moisten it once or twice a month and remove it before hosta/daylillies emerge is this OK? Might the compost be mature?


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Answer from NGA
July 26, 2010

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What you describe is sometimes called sheet composting and as long as it is well managed by being turned, it should decompose readily. I would use everything you've mentioned with the exception of the tomato plants - unless they were healthy all season long and have been well shredded. Tomato plants can harbor bacterial and fungal diseases which might not be killed during your composting process. These I would bury or toss into a pile that heats up well enough to kill the pathogens. Aside from that caution, there's no reason you cannot spread your garden debris over the flower beds. Not only will it turn into nutrient rich compost, it will also suppress weeds so your flower bed will be ready to grow in the spring. Instead of removing the compost in the spring, either leave it as is, simply brushing or raking it away from the plants as they sprout in the spring, or dig it into the soil at the beginning of the spring growing season to help amend the soil. Best wishes with your garden!

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