Fall Garden Cleanup in St. Johns, Arizona

  Chilies NOT going to ripen before frost. I recently ran across a Facebook post

 Chilies NOT going to ripen before frost

Chilies NOT going to ripen before frost.

I recently ran across a Facebook post that suggested people should leave leaves on the lawn all winter to increase fertility and reduce fall clean-up work.  I wasn’t surprised when multiple gardeners from all over the world jumped right in and said all the things I was thinking: Mow them first or they will created dead patches on the lawn, pick them up and compost them before adding them so bad critters don’t overwinter in them, they will rot and make a stinky mess…

…and then I remembered that we don’t have big deciduous leaves where I am. Nor do we get enough moisture in the winter to either rot or compost leaves, chopped or not. I don’t have much of a lawn, because it is too expensive and environmentally irresponsible to grow big swaths of grass in such an arid climate, using city water. But I do have fall clean-up chores and I do appreciate any way that I can reduce my fall gardening chores. 

This year, I have been very busy with my son and his family moving in with me, so I made a list of the absolute requirements for garden cleanup, and the rest is going to have to wait until it freezes, or whenever I get to it. My goals for this day included:




  • Get rid of all the fruiting plants that either have no fruits, or which fruits are too small and immature to mature before frost. 
  • Any garden bed that is empty, add compost or manure or both
  • Trim all the trees that had damage, and trim the locust trees for shape*
  • Harvest everything usable and process it
  • Mow ALL the weeds, lawn, orchard “grass”, between raised beds, and paths

It isn’t a huge list, I know, but I do have 13 raised beds, 7 compost bins, a small grape vineyard, and a greenhouse that needed this treatment, and I can’t run the lawn mower (my favorite weed/leaf-chopping tool) while people in the house are sleeping, so time is always an issue. But I was blessed with a 30 day weekend due to Columbus Day, so I tackled the uprooting of the fruiting plants first. 

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