It’s that time. Most of the leaves have fallen from the trees around here, and the weather has been rainy on and off. It is time to rake up all the leaves in earnest before the constant rain of November, the chill, and the winds make it an unpleasant chore. Besides, the machinery that we use to help us clear a couple acres of leaf covered ground don’t function very well with wet leaves.
Some years ago we bought a leaf vacuum shredder. We really needed it, but I think now I would have purchased the self-propelled type. It is more important in a heavy piece of machinery like this than in a mower. Of course lots of people have attachments for their lawn mowers- that isn’t us, although I wish it were, now.
Most years I try to mulch all the leaves I can and let them molder down into compost in or near the composting pile. Last year I made the fatal mistake ( fatal for one of my new sweet gums) of adding uncomposted leaf mulch around some of the new trees.
The problem was that it was maple leaf mulch, which is high pH for the sweet gum trees that were getting the alkalinity raised as rain leached through the maple leaves. Maple leaves can be a little unfriendly to some other plants, too…. but in this case, by the time I figured out what was contributing to the yellowing and general weakening of the tree- no amount of iron rite or pH lowering additive was going to save it.
Lesson learned for the acid loving things.
Oak leaves are what you want for that. Oak leaves and pine needles are some of the best organic conditioners for your soil, especially if its clay. I just don’t have the oak trees, instead the former generations planted plenty of Silver Maples. And that is how people are with trees, often- thinking in the short term, which is what Silver Maples are in tree lives and worth.
Sometimes I burn our leaves, we’re allowed to do that out here. I don’t especially like to though, it seems a waste of good nutrients that composting provides. And rotting leaves are a great soil conditioner.
I had a friend in the city who loaded her leaves into giant leaf bags and secured them to her chain link fence. (The ubiquitous chainlinks of the city back yards!) She added some fertilizer and let them compost for the next years garden. It worked well, and was manageable with the small amount of leaves and wind of her situation. In those days I had an old metal garbage can with holes in the bottom that I buried up to its neck in the veggie garden. That sounds Halloween-scary, doesn’t it?
I filled it with my compostings and leaves in layers with a bit of soil and fertilizer. Excellent in all ways except the narrowness of can opening. That narrow opening meant I couldn’t turn the compost so easily. You can see what a “make-do” person I am.
Now my composting area is a pit surrounded by stacked concrete block in an out of the way part of the yard under a tree. I’m not very scientific about it, I just haven’t had the time! so the good composting things go there to just rot until useful. I used to be much more attentive to such things…maybe next year.
Because good compost is like gardening gold- a trite but true saying.If you can save any of your leaves after raking, you might find that you are able to put them to good use next year.
Tags:leaf raking, seasons