Time to “Chop and Drop!”

Alright all you Michiganderanians. Because we’ve had such beautiful weather this late into October, I just know that you’ve delayed cleaning out your vegetable and flower beds. Well, it’s going to be in the 70s with unlimited sunshine again this week, so you have no more excuses for not getting this done. You know you’re going to pay the price if you delay any longer. 70 and sunny, or 48 in the rain. Your choice, but either way the “chop and drop” has to be done.  “How do you do it,” the guy in the back row from Westland asks. Simple. It goes like this:

  1. DO NOT rake your soil clean.
  2. Chop down your old plants and drop them there. Don’t pull them out by the roots.
  3. Put down a thin layer of WormCycle worm castings.
  4. Add a layer of good organic mulch. This is a perfect way to dispose of fallen leaves. Chop them up with a mower first though.
  5. Now put down a 2 inch layer of wood chips.

“What’s the reason for doing this?” Good question, lady from West Bloomfield. Everything we do is for the benefit of the microbes that we have carefully cultivated all summer long. Just because we’re done growing doesn’t mean that the critters are done living. What we’re doing here is setting ourselves up for success come the Spring. By doing this we can continue to stay away from all the chemical fertilizers we thought we needed. Always keep your soil covered. This protects all the bacteria and fungi from the Sun’s UV rays. By dropping your old plants onto the ground you’ve now provided an over winter food source for the microbes. As it composts in place, the soil fool web can sustain itself. If your soil needs a microbial boost, add the worm castings. Add more food in the form of mulched leaves. Finally, armor up. The wood chips provide cover for the complex eco-system that you just put in place. Without it the harsh winter elements will destroy what you just created. Further as the wood chips decay they will enhance fungal growth and make for a more balance environment.

“That’s a lot of stuff to dig up in the Spring.” Well, my friend from Downriver, I’m glad you said that. You don’t have to do any digging at all in the Spring. Never, ever, ever use that roto-tiller again! By doing so, you’ll destroy your new carefully balanced microbial system. When you plant, simply use a hand spade and disturb the soil a little as possible.

The point of all this is to understand that biology begets the chemistry. All our gardening lives we thought it was all about the N-P-K. Nothing could be further from the truth. When we get the biology right, the soils will come into chemical harmony without us lifting a finger.

That’s all for now. Please give me your feed back here.

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