For many gardeners, removing organic debris from the garden is a dreaded chore. However, there’s also satisfaction in finding ways to recycle organic material, and in turn, using it to liven the coming winter.
Recycle to create visual appeal. When the snow flies, it creates a flat landscape. In the autumn, leave a cornstalk or two, a tomato, or any other sturdy plant that won’t be pulverized by snow. Stake them as needed so the plants remain upright. Then, when the snow falls, enjoy the sight. One year, two tomato plants in my garden looked beautiful. They stood covered in snow, under a full moon, looking like they were dressed in white gowns and ready for the ball.
Carved pumpkins also add zing to the snowy landscape. After Halloween, set that Jack-o-Lantern on a stump, or in a flowerpot, and watch as its face changes through winter. It’s a fun way to recycle organic material from the garden, and once it has fallen apart, toss it back in the garden as green manure.
Recycle to enhance auditory interest. Those ornamental grasses that looked lovely in the summer can bring auditory magic in winter. Pull any dead organic material from around them, being careful not to bend the grasses or knock off seedpods. Some will whisper in the wind, while others rattle, providing variety to Ol’ Man Winter’s silent stealth.
Recycle and make a haven for wildlife. By the time fall arrives, many people have a pile of dead limbs that needs burning, and windfall fruit that should go in the garbage. However, hold that match, and keep the lid on the trash! Wild animals need shelter and sustenance in the cold months, and one way to help them is to recycle organic material by piling dead branches for shelter, and leaving the fruit on the ground for sustenance. Birds, rabbits and deer will love it.
Recycle to provide mulch. Although most of us prefer to clean up the leaves that fall in decorative areas, it’s actually better to recycle and spread them as mulch that protects tender plants. When layered thickly over bulbs and perennials, the organic material helps prevent the soil from heaving, and protects beneficial insects.
Try out these tips and you’ll see variety in the snowy landscape and possibly wildlife in your yard, making you glad you decided to recycle the garden and yard’s organic material. You’ll be doubly repaid next year, when those daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips – that you mulched with leaves in the fall – burst into color, announcing spring’s arrival.
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