The summer vegs have eked out their last fruits of the season and are now on the quick decline towards brown and dead.
We’ve had a couple of light frosts that are drawing the growing season to a close and I’ve been out in the garden frequently trying to get the last few edibles in. I have the butternuts in, the cucumbers have been done for a couple of weeks, my tomato plants are absolutely loaded with hard, green tomatoes that will never see a rosy blush and the zucchini are still going gangbusters. I have a few cantaloupe and watermelon left but they aren’t quite ready yet. The bell peppers are still producing like mad, but this year the fruit has been odd. Typically I get big peppers begging to be stuffed with a meat and rice mixture and baked until soft. This year, none have been much bigger around than 2″ or 3″ at the widest part and flat as a patty pan squash! Weird. They are fully ripened and absolutely delicious, but there were no stuffing-worthy peppers this year.
And the compost pile grows as I start pulling dying vines and plants from the garden and layering them with egg shells, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps, horse poo, chicken poo, grass clippings, fireplace ashes, etc. etc. Every year I stand staring at the mountain of dead tomato and pepper plants and wonder what the hell I’m going to do with them. Burn them? Compost them? Chuck ’em in the woods and let nature happen? I hate wasting them when they do compost so nicely and give back to the earth they grew from.
But you hear three firmly differing camps on composting the tomato, pepper and eggplant plants to use back in the garden.
One side says never, ever, ever compost them! Blight! Wilt! Rot! Disease! The risks outweigh the benefits, even with healthy plants.
The other side says, sure, go ahead compost away but make sure you are composting healthy plants, never, ever diseased plants because even the heat from a properly cared-for and turned compost pile won’t destroy fungus spores. Which makes sense.
And a third side says burn ’em to crisp and mix the ashes into the garden soil for a worry-free, disease-free soil additive.
Mine aren’t quite ready to burn, and I haven’t decided whether I’ll just knock them down and till them right into the garden or put them on the compost pile. My plants were all healthy this year despite a miserably hot season and very little rainfall.
Oh, decisions, decisions!
Life is Good!