Clean-up in the vegetable garden

Last year I piled all the old squash vines together in a stack the size of a sofa in an attempt to compost them. They decomposed a bit, but by early summer were still mushy. I think they may have been the source of the powdery mildew that affected my early squash plantings. This year, I’m burning the old vines on a bonfire, hopefully incinerating the mildew spores. And, the burn gives a nice sense of finality and closure to the summer garden. Moving on…

I’ve also pulled the tomato plants. The roots on this one show how large and vigorous individual plants will get if given enough room. I plant them about five feet apart, a distance that seems ridiculous in May, but by August, the tree-like plants are enjoying growth unfettered by competition. In this case, less is more: these vines are more productive than those from my previous practice of crowding plants in staked rows.

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