After an entire summer of hoping for rain, I finally am getting the rainfall I would have benefited from over the past month — all in one week.

However, I am still thankful I don’t live in a hurricane/ tropical storm area where several feet of water come all at once. I will accept that if I still want tomatoes, I will have to get out there to pick them before the rain hits. Otherwise, every single heirloom tomato will be cracked. The fluctuation in moisture causes the tomatoes to hydrate a little too much and they split quicker than you can blink your eye.

Luckily it is still tomato season at all. Many areas are finishing up early for the year with us having a shorter growing season. Area farmers are saying their harvest will most likely be up to three weeks early.

With the end of the season upon us as our plants slowly die back, we can begin cleaning up our gardens.

If you don’t already have a compost pile, now would be a great time to start one. Just be sure not to locate it too far from where the bulk of your materials will be coming from in your yard. Before placing anything plant wise into your compost pile, make sure it isn’t covered in insects or diseased. Those items you do not want to add to your compost. Home composting doesn’t always reach the internal temperature to truly sterilize all the bad stuff out, such as in commercial composting operations. You don’t want to be adding compost to your garden that may be tainted with something that will hinder your garden rather than help it.

When your leaves begin to fall, those can be raked up and added there into your pile as well. It makes no sense to black bag your leaves and grass clippings if you are just going to put them out for your trash collector to pick up. As far as I know, compost has never been shown to improve the landfill conditions, so don’t send it there.

If you don’t have room for a compost pile in your yard, bring it to the Solid Waste District’s Green Waste Site on Zigler Road near the fairgrounds. Just be sure not to use black bags — or if you do, make sure you empty your yard waste from them at the site and take your bag back with you. Those large craft paper lawn bags can be left at the green waste site because they will decompose and be added into their amazing mix for the compost that they sell.

If you end up with something diseased or insect infested, those items should be black bagged and placed out for your garbage collector. You would be amazed at how things spread from season to season in a garden if we have a mild winter. The key is to keep your compost ingredients drama free to make yourself compost your neighbors will be begging for a bag of. Some people will run their fallen leaves through a mulcher or chop them up with a mower and then top-dress them to the cleared soil of their gardens to let them decompose right there over the winter.

Regardless of how you work to accomplish it, be sure to remember the more cleaning up that you do this fall will be the less work you do next spring. Now, put on some rain boots and try to enjoy the rain before one day it turns to snow.

I will be at Luhr Park Wednesday at 9 a.m. as part of their Healthy Livings series. Just call the park office at 325-8315. to RSVP a spot.


Sacha Burns is an organic gardener and owner of Sunkissed Organics in Pinola. She may be reached at

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