Sunday, October 1, 2017

Fallen Leaves

Something for free has always appealed to me as long as I can quickly make good use of it.  Quaint old villages around here feature massive trees lining the streets and holding locations near houses.  Cleaning up the dropped leaves is a standard practice at this time of year but few see them as treasure.  Piling bags of leaves around the skirting of mobile homes to keep out winter's cold is a common activity here.  Some old stone house foundations receive a similar treatment.  There is some competition to be the first to find bags of leaves curbside.  They are free for the taking since that diminishes the work for the village crew.  I filled the pickup with bags of leaves and drove home happy!

Having done this for awhile, the best locations for clean leaves or leaves that are vacuumed up by lawn mowers are known to me.  Prechopped leaves are the best, but clean whole leaves get two runs by my mower.  We have found several advantages to placing leaves on our garden soil.  The people that just raked these leaves from their lawns might not understand why I dump them out on my lawn.

These Cardinal Flower plants from seed were moved to their permanent location in our new woodland garden several weeks ago.  Here the ground leaves serve three important functions.  Cardinal Flower plants grow in moist locations in the wild.  Their soil here will remain moist under a cover of leaves.  As the leaves decay the soil under them will become more like natural forest ground.  The leaf cover will also discourage weeds.  The desired plant in the foreground has a weed growing right next to its crown.  Several attempts to remove it have been made but the tangle of white Cardinal Flower roots has tightly held the weed crown.  This battle is expected to go on forever but fight the weed we will.  These three plant were growing so close together when dug that we felt separating them might be fatal.  Now they simply look crowded but nothing can be done about that until spring.  Fall divisions of Cardinal Flower are seldom successful.

At the end of last week this was our tomato bed.  The poles, weeds, straw mulch and fallen tomatoes have all be removed.  The trench between the field grasses and the bed has been dug again and filled with ground bark mulch.  A top dressing of lime followed by a mixture of long aged compost, purchased composted cow manure and peat moss was mixed into the soil.  A layer of new leaves that just had two trips under the mower completed the preparation of this ground.  The wire fence sections that usually are placed to keep the deer out will be placed on top of the leaves to hold them in place.  When winter ends this bed will emerge nearly ready for its next crop.  That is something to look forward to.

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