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CLEAN UP, THEN SHAVE

 Out with the Old (Plants)

   Ostensibly, I’m clearing away old plant debris from the vegetable and flower gardens to spare next year’s garden a full onslaught of overwintering disease and insect pests, and so that, come spring, the soil is ready and waiting for seeds and transplants. I’ll admit it, though: I like the garden looking neat going into late autumn. As Charles Dudley Warner wrote in his book My Summer in the Garden (1889), “the closing scenes need not be funereal.”    As of this writing, frost has not yet struck; as of your reading, it probably will have. Following that event, I will remove all dead plants. I’ll grasp the tops of smaller plants, such as marigolds and basil, give them a twist to sever the smaller roots, then lift and toss the plant into a waiting garden cart. If I tried to do that with old pepper, tomato, …

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