The Great Outdoors


There is always a perfect time to do certain jobs in the garden to ensure the best results for this year and the next. Of course cleaning up dead, decaying plants, leaves and stems from your gardening area helps to prevent the return of the same pests and diseases that plagued you this year. I like to totally remove the most diseased plant materials and then use the rest for composting along with most of my leaves. And get rid of all the many rotten tomatoes, as those tomato seeds will all grow plants in unwanted areas next year.

Chopping up everything into smaller pieces makes for the best results when composting. Using the lawn mower as that chopping device is a “no-brainer”. The smaller the pieces, the better. The thicker stems from broccoli, peppers and tomatoes, etc. can be chopped up with hedge trimmers before incorporating them into the compost pile.

The addition of nitrogen greatly speeds up the composting process. At the beginning of the spring growing season I always buy a 20 lbs. bag of Garden Fertilizer, never worrying that it might be more than I need as I can use any left-over fertilizer in my compost pile at the end of the year. Also, if I have old soluble fertilizers (the kind you mix with water), I spread that powder in there too. But if you can get hold of fresh or composted cow, sheep, chicken, or horse manure, add that too.

Fresh cut grass (without Weed ‘n Feed) is a great source of nitrogen. Also, while collecting leaves, it is safe to use Maple, Ash, Birch, Beech or fruit trees. You may use Oak leaves but only about 1/5th of leaves collected should be Oak. By all means avoid Walnut trees.

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Doug Hackbarth

Doug's is the former owner of Broadview Florist & Greenhouses in Waynedale. He authors a garden & landscaping article in the newspaper. In his adolescence he attended Hillcrest, Kekionga and Elmhurst HS. His expertise has been shared in print, tv and radio. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer