Putting the Garden to Bed

Maria Price

The relatively mild weather in autumn makes gardening a little easier.

According to the late Dr. Frank Guan, bay weekly As gardening columnists, plant scientists, and professors of horticulture at the University of Maryland, we should leave annual roots and stumps in the garden. It’s a habit I’ve had for years.

Pulling dead and dying annuals from their roots removes valuable topsoil and valuable organic matter. Leaving the roots in the soil helps maintain and even increase the concentration of organic matter in the soil. increase.

With the blade set to its highest position, you can mow these annuals. This is especially useful in vegetable gardens. In the flower garden, cut down the annuals individually, but leave the roots in the ground. Avoid cutting perennials, especially native plants. Many of the seed heads provide winter food for birds and egg-laying sites for native bees. increase.

Even if the roots of summer annual plants and annual weeds that are not cold-resistant remain in the ground, they will rot when planting the following spring, so there is no problem.

Roots contain high levels of lignin, which strengthens the plant’s cell walls. The organic matter left by these roots has a beneficial residual effect. Annual roots are able to penetrate deep into the soil. The tunnels formed by these rotting roots give new roots easy access the following spring. Rapid and deep rooting in newly planted annuals helps make them more drought tolerant. increase.

This method is commonly practiced when establishing new orchards. Before planting new trees to speed up establishment, it is a good idea to plant radishes that have long, thick roots and grow from autumn to early winter. After freezing in winter, the roots tunnel and decompose the soil, increasing the organic matter in the soil.

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