As the cooler nights set in, the blooms and foliage on many of our annuals and perennials are beginning to fade. It’s time to get out into the garden and tidy things up as the growing season winds down. An easy and effective way to accomplish this task is the chop-and-drop method, which serves as a mulch and a way to feed the soil!
How To Chop-And-Drop
This permaculture gardening technique is no-waste and recreates what happens naturally in a forest. Chop-and-drop involves cutting back plants in the garden and letting them fall to the ground, where they can naturally decompose and fertilize their own roots.
Cut the plant down to soil level, leaving the roots beneath the surface for the earthworms to munch on over the winter. They’ll be aerating the soil as they feast!
As you continue checking off your fall garden chore list, you can cover the material you’ve chopped and dropped with layers of leaf mold and compost. Your plants will thank you for the rich soil come the spring.
The best part? There is no need for a wheelbarrow to remove dead material; all you need are pruners or garden shears.
This gardening technique is perfect for spent annuals and vegetables or shrubs and trees that require pruning in the fall.
The golden rule? All plant material you chop and drop must be pest and disease-free! If they’re not, you’ll be spreading problems throughout the garden. Diseased plant material should be burned or disposed of in the trash, never composted.
It’s also better to chop and drop before the plant goes to seed to avoid it taking over the garden in the spring.
Don’t forget to leave some flower seed heads for the birds to eat this winter. Not everything must be deadheaded or chopped and dropped, but it is a wonderful way to naturally feed the garden!