Daily Archives: November 29, 2021

Clean Up Garden Now for a More Productive Garden Next Spring!

Don’t put that trowel and rake away just yet! This year’s gardening season may be over, but it can also be a great opportunity to start preparations for next year’s gardening season. Taking care of a few garden clean-up chores now means fewer pests and disease problems which leads to a more productive garden for next spring! 

To help shine the light on garden clean-up, I contacted Kim Leonberger, our UK Agriculture Extension Associate to get the checklist needed to help take the guesswork out of garden clean-up. To hear the full episode, make sure to stay right here for Episode 20 of the Sunshine Gardening Podcast!

  • Why do we clean up?
    • Plant pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses can survive in plant debris and on items in the garden.
    • Cleaning-up helps to remove these pathogen structures so that they do not survive winter and come back to cause issues next year.
    • Failure to clean-up can result in more disease next year.
  • What gardening activities should we consider to help clean-up our gardens for the winter?
    • Remove plants and plant debris.
    • Turn soil when possible.
    • Clean tools, stakes, cages, decorations, pots and other items from the garden.
  • Do not compost diseased plant material.
    • Diseased plant material should be burned, buried, or taken off-site.
    • Home compost bins do not get hot enough to kill these plant pathogens.
    • Large-scale, commercial compost piles do get hot enough to kill pathogens.
    • Some communities have yard waste pick-up, which go to a large compost pile. It is ok to put diseased material here.
  • Cleaning tools
    • Cleaning products (soaps and detergents) remove loose organic matter. Products include dish soap, hand soap, some household cleaners.
    • Disinfection products (disinfectants/sanitizers) have anti-microbial activity and can kill disease-causing micro-organisms. Products include rubbing alcohol (70%), 10% bleach (9 parts water and 1 part bleach), hand sanitizer, some household cleaners.
    • Steps to cleaning tools
      • Clean and scrub to remove organic matter.
      • Rinse to remove any residues.
      • Disinfect – Follow product directions. Most require a dip, soak, or spray. Be sure to note exposure time. A lot of products it is between 3 and 5 minutes. Bleach is the most effective and requires 30-45 seconds. However, bleach is corrosive so a rinse is need to limit effects. Make sure to never mix bleach with other cleaning products as a toxic gas can form.
      • Rinse and Dry.
      • Example of cleaning a tool – Wash with dish soap to remove soil and other organic matter. Rinse and dry. Dip in 10% bleach solution for 30-45 seconds. Rinse in clean water (not the same as before). Dry with a paper towel.

I hope that you enjoyed our discussion today on garden clean-up! A big thank you to Kim Leonberger for being our guest on the Sunshine Gardening Podcast! To view the show notes for Episode 20, make sure to visit me on the blog at Warren County Agriculture! You can find us at warrencountyagriculture.com.

Kim Leonberger, UK Agriculture Extension Associate