Whether or not you plan on planting a fall garden this year, it is important to clean out your garden beds as soon as you are finished harvesting. There is no sense in allowing plants that aren’t producing fruit to continue soaking up those valuable nutrients from the soil! Besides this, old plants attract disease, and the sooner you can remove them, the better.
A popular topic among gardeners is whether or not you should compost your old plants and root systems once you’ve finished digging them up. My answer will always be N-O. The reality is that disease-free plants are perfectly fine for a compost heap, and even diseased plants would be acceptable if you could guarantee the heaps temperature at 140 degrees for a number of days, but most people cannot guarantee either of these factors. Considering the risk and reward, it is much better to play it safe – burn those old plants and be done with it!
Small garden areas are more prone to harboring disease in the soil because they tend to be overworked and under-rotated. Urban gardeners need to be overly protective of that soil whenever they can. Thankfully, there are many more ways to manage disease in small garden areas that we can talk about later. For now, burn those plants and feed your garden with some fresh compost!