Late fall and early winter is a great time to not only clean up your garden but to collect that valuable composting material. And not just leaves and grass. Notice above my cart full of trimmings from the trees and bushes around the property. Tops of the now frost killed peony plants, frost killed bulb foliage seed pods and dead and dying annual flowers. All of this can be composted. I do not compost roses, mint or any plant that I know the be invasive. Everything else if it grows and is in the plant kingdom I consider fair game.
And not just the compost piles benefit from these plant trimmings. Here I have a stump from a huge maple tree that blew down last year. We continue to pile compostable material on top of the area to aid the stump in rotting and improving the soil until we can plant a new tree in it's place.
Here is the flower bed that runs along the edge of the porch. I deliberately did not plant my normal marigolds there last year but rather allowed it to lie dormant al summer with a heavy straw mulch on it and several layers of newspaper. Any stray wheat seeds that sprout are pulled and simply laid back over the top of the bed to decompose and add to the overall fertility of the bed.
Now is the time that I like to also trim my fruit trees removing any low lying limbs that have been damaged by deer trying to get at the fruit, wind damage from limbs rubbing together or crossing during those windy spring storms. Water sprouts along the trunks of the trees can also be removed now. By removing any damaged limbs now the trees themselves are less susceptible to ice and snow damage from weak or already damaged branches breaking under the winter weight. All of this woody matter is saved for the compost piles and this year a new project. Can you believe in the picture above I am still mowing grass?
Pictured above crabapple tree, peach, plum, pecan, sugar maple and asparagus beds.
Right now all of this vegetation is waiting in the garden in piles. I am going to construct a hugelkultur bed and this will be used in my beds. I have been reading and studying permaculture and decided that I will do some experimenting on this method of food production. With last years drought these beds are supposed to be very water efficient and that may be needed next year. I have the room and the material to experiment so that is my next project. Besides what a great way to use up all these branches and wood.
And in the bottom of the bed lots of wood branches . I have two trees that fell this year that I have saved all summer for this purpose.
And the great thing about cleaning up this time of year is that it is that much less that I have to deal with in the hectic spring rush.
We've really been blessed with mild weather this last week. Cool mornings with mild and sunny afternoons which are perfect for this kind of work. I will continue until the snow flies or it just gets too cold to work outside anymore for these old arthritic hands : )
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter