I am thinking about trying something new this year in my garden to prepare for the winter. I live in Ottawa, Canada (zone 4) and typical gardeners cut back all perennial to the ground in the fall and throws them in yard waste bags. Seeing how nature doesn't do any of this and yet things grow back year after year without any real issues. I am thinking about leaving the garden as it stands and let nature do the work for me. I guess I am taking the "Do nothing" approved as Masanobu Fukuoka farm did. I am sure these has been done before and wanted to know what was the your result and experience?
- More pest problems?
- Mold issues?
- Plants do not come back as thick or strong?
- Plants have died (chocked out by last year dead growth or lack of sunlight)?
People do it because it looks messy and you know how people are. We like to arrange and entertain ourselves "cleaning our gardens"
Natura obviously doesn't do that. And most plants survive in their roots and woody stems, not their foliage. So, any cleaning does not make sense.
And cleaning makes the soil more prone to suffer from hard freezes. Mulching is very important to ensure survival of some plants.
During the cold winter, even if wet, generally molds and rotting is not a problem because the weather will be too cold. But you can do some cleaning in spring if necessary (like if too much mulch covers young seedlings).
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
We leave most everything as it is in the garden and clean up next spring. We do remove tomato plants and peppers....and sometimes the okra. But others we just leave in place. We cut the kale up and turn it under with a machete. Had to do that twice this year due to cabbage worms. Trying again now that the weather has cooled off.
I have read that you should clean up bean debris in order to deny them a place to overwinter. What does permaculture say about that? Is it ok to leave bean plants in the garden overwinter after they had been infested with bean beetles?
I'm not sure what permaculture would say, but I kind of think it might say "it depends" as in "it depends on if the bean debris harbors a bunch of bugs or disease, in which case you might want to compost or otherwise dispose of it (even, shudder, burn it!) and return the composted or otherwise processed bean materials back to the garden after they've passed through enough appropriate parts of the system." But I can't say that's a quote from permaculture. That's a quote from me.
Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm not sure what permaculture would say, but I kind of think it might say "it depends" as in "it depends on if the bean debris harbors a bunch of bugs or disease, in which case you might want to compost or otherwise dispose of it (even, shudder, burn it!) and return the composted or otherwise processed bean materials back to the garden after they've passed through enough appropriate parts of the system." But I can't say that's a quote from permaculture. That's a quote from me.
... and also whether or not the debris harbors predatory insects to combat those same pests or other beneficial insects.
There are somethings I actively dispose of to get reduce disease pressure (like tomatoes) and somethings I haul to the compost pile but in the perennial beds I mostly leave stuff as-is. It's how Mom Nature works and that's fine for me.
I am planning on doing nothing at all in the fall or spring and see how it works out. I know Martin Crawford doesn't do anything in his forest garden which is what got me thinking I should be able to do the same thing. My garden is very young and still not what I would consider a forest garden yet. My father and I has a few simple gardens at the cottage and we do absolutely nothing in terms of clean up and things seem to come back nicely every year.
I will do my best to report back in June 2013 to let you know what the results and if any intervention was needed.
** Update **
A couple of weeks ago the snow finally disappeared completely and the ground had thawed. I was surprised to find that for the most part it looked liked I had cut and cleared everything in fall. The only intervention I did was remove some of the dead debris to help the new growth come through. I suspect the perennial would have been just find had I not done anything but I couldn't help but get my hands dirty in the garden.
While out in the garden yesterday I notice a very large number of spiders running around in my garden compared to spring of 2012 or even all of 2012 growing season. I did notice in the fall a bunch of spider egg sacs attached to the dead foliage which traditionally would have been cut and put into a compost or brown bag for garbage day.
I am so far completely sold on this method. So far I only see benefits with zero downfall as of now but I will report back if I do.
We cannot change unless we survive, but we will not survive unless we change. Evolving tiny ad: