Greener Thumb
Posts: 729
Joined: Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:58 pm
Location: zone 4

Leaving roots in the ground

HG said something about this in another post and I thought I should repost this question in another thread ;)

Can ALL annual plants be cut at the stem and the roots left in the ground? Veggies too? Will the roots decompose by the following year or do you just move the dead ones around when you're replanting?
What about diseased plants, should those roots be pulled?

That's my zillion questions for the day :lol:

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Senior Member
Posts: 109
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 7:08 pm
Location: Utah Hardiness Zone: 6b

When I plant annuals, in the fall we either till it up with the plants plucked off, or we just pluck the plants off. We leave the roots in, because the soil they were planted with at first is still there in a little clump. It's good fertilizer. Or you could pull out the roots (which are dried up by then) and just leave the good soil.

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Greener Thumb
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Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 8:40 pm
Location: N. California

roots will decompose into organic matter which will in turn feed your plants, you also get the benefits of the soil micro organisms that were living on the root system of said plants.

diseased plants should be pulled and tossed. rotate crops in that spot until the soil is balanced again.

Cool Member
Posts: 91
Joined: Sun May 16, 2010 7:34 pm
Location: Michigan

yes you should leave all annual roots in the soil, will they all be decomposed by next year, no. corn will not and neither will some others, but they still will be adding humus to the soil. No you don't have to dig them out to plant, just push the new seeds in between the old roots.
will diseases remain in the roots, they might if there were diseases that you are sure are apparent, then pull and burn the entire plant.

if there are no diseases..if the plant has no seeds that could be a problem for causing weeds, you can leave the entire plant in the garden, or you can chop and drop the top of the plant as a mulch .

return as much of your plant material to the garden every year..and it is always better not to till if you can avoid it.

a good book on this information is
Gaia's Garden Toby Hemenway
avail from amazon

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7447
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 10:20 pm
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: Leaving roots in the ground

Till or not till seems to be a question that gets beat around a bunch. I can only tell you what I do.
In the fall put all the organic matter I can come up with on the plot. Leaves, grass clippings
the compost heap, and till it all in along with what is left of the garden plants on the garden,
including standing corn stalks. All that organic matter gets chopped up with the tiller and worked
in. Come spring I can just go plant the early stuff. I till shallowly before planting the later crops as
weeds will be growing then.

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