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Clean up your mess

By Penny Stine

Since we had a hard freeze that turned my garden into this, I decided it was time to get most of it cleaned up for the season. Cleaning out the old debris and brown, dry stalks is a good deterrent to some diseases and pests. Plus, it makes you feel like you've accomplished something by the time you're done.
Squash bugs overwinter as adults in garden debris, firewood stacks and piles of leaves, so clearing out the dead plants can disrupt their long siesta. Of course, if you simply chop everything in small pieces and then toss it in your compost pile next to the garden (as I did), perhaps you're just inviting the squash bugs to overwinter there instead.

As you can see, I left the broccoli standing, since it has yet to form a head. I haven't given up hope yet. I read that broccoli needs plenty of water to help it form its head, which is somewhat challenging, since our irrigation water is shut off for the season. I'll haul hoses for a couple Saturdays before I give up entirely.

I planned on spreading the compost and working it into the soil, but by the time I had wheelbarrowed it to all the little piles scattered here and there, I was done. It took me the better part of Saturday to pull, chop and haul out the garden's remains. I thought I could work equally hard on Sunday, but I wanted a day off! There's always this weekend.  

I also left carrots and beets in the ground. I was going to cover them with straw to protect against a hard winter freeze, but since most nights still aren't dipping lower than 32, I'm leaving them alone for now.  

Last fall, I planted garlic in this bed. I thought I dug it all up, but since I can see it sprouting in several places, I guess I missed some. 


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