Cut back perennials for compost pile

Go Garden

November 26, 2005|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Is it a bad idea to cut back perennials while the leaves are green? Are the plants still benefiting this late in the year? I want to use the green leaves on my compost pile as "greens." If I wait until the leaves turn brown and compost them, do they still provide nitrogen to the compost pile?

This late in the season, you can cut back your perennials for use in your compost pile. If you wait until the foliage browns, they will not provide the nitrogen or "green" source that you desire for your compost pile. They will be a good balance for the "brown" carbon of autumn leaves in your compost pile.

Checklist

Drain the water from outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing.and cracking this winter.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's hotline at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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