Fall Cleanup Basics for Your New England Garden
Cleaning Up Doesn't Mean Stripping it Bare!
So often we drive by houses with manicured lawns and gardens, with not a leave or downed branch in sight. Looks clean, right? Cleaning your gardens with the same fervor as you do your kitchen floor is not only time-consuming, its a bad idea. Especially if you are trying to do things naturally and be a little "greener" in the garden.
Ever stop and wonder how the forest maintains itself, without pruning, pesticides, raking and fertilizer? Probably not, but maybe you should take a few pointers from mother nature. Millions of years of experience and she hasn't failed us yet, right? Take a walk into the woods and look on the ground - what you see is years of previous growth, including leaves, sticks and all sorts of natural tidbits, artfully scattered across the forest floor. As you get deeper, you'll find that nature's composters have been at work, turning old leaves and the like into natural compost, rich with minerals and nutrients. Now we're not suggesting that you let the garden go completely wild, but maybe we can meet mother nature half way, and keep your garden chores to a minimum at the same time.
Let Mother Nature Do Her Thing, At Least for a While
We like to let our current year's growth in the garden just stay there over the winter. No, we're not lazy, we're giving nature a chance to break down some of the nutrients in the stems and leaves and return it to the soil. Usually by mid-March when we're cleaning up after a long winter, we find that a good portion of it is already decayed, making cleanup easier and faster. What's not to like? You may even find that much of the decaying material can just be turned over into the soil, making it retain moisture better and requiring less mulch later on. Again, what's not to like? Sure, your neighbors may be pointing their finger at your house when they drive by because it doesn't look picture perfect, but who cares. When the snow starts flying and it drapes itself over your brown sticks and stems, I don't think there is a more awe-inspiring sight to see right from your window. So give mother nature a break, give yourself a break on the work, and last but not least give your wallet a break on the extra fertilizer and mulch - its right there for the taking!