22October 21, 2015

Sunday morning it was 28 degrees at the house. At that cold of a temperature, I guess we can say goodbye to the annual flowers. Hopefully it will also be the end of the mosquitoes.

Once the temperatures go below freezing, most perennials, annuals and your tender vegetable plants will have stopped growing for the season. You can pull up and discard the annual flowers. The tomato, pepper and squash plants can be pulled up and discarded. Most perennials will need to be cut back to get rid of the frost damaged foliage. One question that needs to be answered is whether or not you can compost this plant material. If uncontrolled fungus diseases attacked the plants, it is probably not a good idea to compost these plants. Yes, the composting process may kill the disease spores if the composting process gets “hot “ enough to kill the spores. Unless you know that your compost pile does get hot enough, I would send the diseased plants off with the other fall yard waste.

When you pull up the plants, they may have thick stems that won’t compost very fast. If you cut up or use a shredder to make smaller pieces of say tomato plant stems, the composting will be quicker.

The composting process depends on what is known as the carbon / nitrogen ratio. In simple terms, this means that you need a mix of green material and a mix of brown material. Your garden waste would be the green material. Your kitchen waste would be your green material. Grass clippings would be green material too. It isn’t always easy to find the brown material you need. It is, however coming into the prime season for nature’s bounty of brown material, fallen leaves. If you mix the dead leaves from your trees with the green material from your garden, you can get a well functioning compost pile. Sometimes the process can be a bit slow even when you think you have the ratio correct in the pile. There are compost activators that you can buy that you can add to the compost pile to speed up the process. We sell this product in our store. You may also want to get some large trash bags and store some of those dead leaves so that you have a source of brown material to mix with all the green material that is created from kitchen waste and grass clippings.

If you have planters that use the cocoa fiber liners, you can extend the life of the liner by removing the liner and emptying out the soil. Bring the liner inside and allow the fiber to dry out. If the liners stay wet all winter, they do tend to rot faster.

Please don’t forget to keep up with watering your shrubs this fall. Your broadleaf evergreens, rose bushes and hydrangeas need to take up water in the fall and store that water in leaves, stems and canes. This allows the plants to lose water to the dry winter winds without the plant drying out due to those winds.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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