Wild Tip: Chop-and-Drop Your Spent Vegetables


At the end of summer you have to figure out what to do with all your spent vegetables. Sometimes people compost them which is a great option but other times people just get rid of them which in my view is not a good thing to do.

Removing the spent vegetables from the garden is essentially removing organic material and nutrients from your garden. Composting is one way to bring these back but there is another much easier option.

That option is called chop-and-drop.

Instead of removing the spent vegetables just cut them up into relatively small pieces and drop them on your garden beds as mulch. I like to put them on top of my leaf mold which helps to keep the leaf mold in place.

Essentially the chopped up vegetables are no different then the leaves. They will feed the soil life and breakdown overtime. The green material may even provide a little nitrogen boost to help things breakdown a bit faster.

Remember you are doing this in the fall so everything will sit and breakdown over the rest of the fall, winter and into spring. By summer assuming your garden's soil is full of life the material will mostly be broken down.

But if your garden is new like mine or has been managed in a way that discouraged soil life (regular tilling, no mulch, etc.) then the material will breakdown more slowly until the soil life has a chance to build up.

I added mushroom spawn (wine cap mushrooms which are edible) to my garden to help speed things up.

Chop-and-drop may look messy but it's a free and easy source of mulch that returns organic material and nutrients back to your garden. Once the chop-and-drop material ages it won't standout against your mulch.

Plus you can chop-and-drop first and then apply a fresh layer of mulch to cover up the chop-and-drop material.

A note on disease issues--in general I don't worry about this method passing on diseases since a diversity of soil life can protect plants against the common diseases. But if you had a diseased plant you were worried about then you can have a hot compost pile for those plants to kill off any pathogens.

If you got a composting system that works for you then of course feel free to keep doing that. But if you want a simple and easy alternative then chop-and-drop is a great option.

For me composting in place through these methods is my go to option. If you want to learn more about chop-and-drop check out my blog post on this topic:

What do you think? Would chop-and-drop work for you? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!


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Great post, thanks for sharing with us!

You're welcome! :)

We grow herbs specifically for this purpose. Comfrey and yarrow are excellent to use for this because of their deep taproots that mine for nutrients deep down. I'm not super tidy in the garden either....I leave some dropped leaves and such around and just kick a bit of mulch over it. I find this helps to add to the organic matter. The bulk of our scraps though, do go to the chickens. They take what they want and what they don't they kick around and it composts super fast.

Comfrey is also great to add to your compost as a booster. Loved when I could get fresh chicken manure but that stuff was powerful.

Yep, we do add it to our compost and we also ferment it into a compost tea for a foliar spray. Works amazingly well at building a strong bio-film and adding nutrients fast.

I always gently tilled in my old plants into the beds (kept my worms healthy and happy) The compost pile I kept for my annual collection of leaves/manure/scraps that I collected (sometimes a couple hundred big trash bags full). If anyone lives near an ocean (I was an hour inland) adding seaweed to the plant material really was a soil booster as well. Never waste good organic stuff.

Yup, I'm always trying to add more organic material to my wild homestead. All your tips are great! Thanks for sharing!

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