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Deciding When to Remove Plants from the Garden

At the end of each season, some plants fade faster than others, but do you take them out or hope they recover? It is hard to know when to pull problem plants but there are a few specific things to consider when you are deciding when to remove plants from the garden.

Cutting Your Losses

As you ponder the decision to remove plants, here are a few questions to ask yourself.
  • Is it producing new growth? Hot and dry conditions can stall a plant’s growth, only for the plant to recover when when rain and cooler temperatures arrive. At this point in the season, it is time to go ahead and pull up those plants that aren’t growing or producing in order to keep them from using the resources in the soil as well as to make room for fall crops.
  • Is there a lot of pest damage?  Stressed plants are more susceptible to pests, even attracting them from other areas which could then cause them to migrate to healthy plants. Those plants that have been heavily damaged need to go, especially for the sake of healthy plants nearby.
  • Do you need the space? There is no room in a small garden for under-producing plants. Remove plants as needed to make room for a fall garden.
Once you have decided to remove plants from your garden, what do you do with the space? Leaving bare soil is never a good idea so take this opportunity to do something nice for the soil. Mulching heavily is a good option to keep the soil temperature down, slow down evaporation, and prevent soil erosion. In between seasons, I like to give the soil a little rest by putting down cardboard topped with mulch. The paper goods will slowly break down, feeding the soil, while protecting it and smothering potential weeds. When it’s time to plant again, simply turn over the soil, paper and all, and enjoy fresh soil packed with earthworms.

If you aren't planning on planting fall crops, this is a good time to plant winter cover crops so that they are mature by winter.  If you are wondering what can be planted right now, and every other month, sign up for my monthly newsletter in the upper right corner of this page.

How do you decide when to pull your garden plants?


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