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University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
It’s an excellent idea to keep the garden clean at all times and to remove dead or dying plants or diseased material. Yet there may be bigger seasonal cleanups when taking out crops that have finished producing or that need to be removed to make room for new plants. Trim woody or overgrown perennials. You should remove plant debris that allows insects and diseases to overwinter and then reproduce. In particular, always pick up fruit promptly from the ground so as not to invite critters or to allow diseases to proliferate. It’s particularly important to remove dried-up fruit “mummies” so that the fungal spores don’t spread. You can leave healthy fallen leaves in place to form a mulch and decompose naturally, or you can rake them up and add them to the compost pile with other disease-free plant material. Do not compost diseased material. Monitor the health of your plants while you're out cleaning up. Keep in mind that this may be more fun to do before the rainy season starts.
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