good times local news media events catalyst santa cruz california “Morgan metro silicon valley news local events san jose weekly Pajaronian local news articles Watsonville California Pajaro Valley” title= santa cruz media events local california weekly king city rustler newspaper media local events car sales buy new car media
49.7 F
English English Español Español
March 23, 2023

Put those dead leaves to good use

New England is overrated. Yes, you heard it here first. The
colorful parade of fall in New England has drawn thousands of
visitors annually for years. But our fall color isn’t shabby
New England is overrated. Yes, you heard it here first. The colorful parade of fall in New England has drawn thousands of visitors annually for years. But our fall color isn’t shabby either. Just take a drive up Hecker Pass Highway outside Gilroy or try the back roads of Morgan Hill or Hollister. You’ll find plenty of fall color that just might rival that of New England’s. And the 49ers could beat the defending Super Bowl Patriots, too. Take that, New England!

All kidding aside, showers of red, orange, purple and gold leaves are spiraling to the ground in many gardens with every gust of wind. Liquidambars, tallows, pistachios, maples, ashes and more are showing their stuff. Leaves, however, often are overlooked as soil-builders. Why rake them into piles and stuff them into our recycling bins when leaves can enrich our garden soils by adding rich humus and act as mulch or compost?

Dead leaves are particularly rich in calcium and potassium. Both of these minerals quickly are taken up by surface-feeding tree roots. In nature, leaves decay where they fall. But we home gardeners have the advantage of being able to place our dead leaves where they will do the most good. Essentially, there are three ways to get these leaves to do the most good. They are:

Incorporation. Get those leaves incorporated into your garden soil by rototilling or digging them in. Simply spread a 6-to-12-inch layer of leaves in your vegetable plot, for instance, and dig away. If your garden is new or has just gotten over a hard summer of growing, you might want to incorporate some additional organic matter in at the same time. Steer or chicken manure and mushroom compost are among the most common and inexpensive locally.

Mulching. This column doesn’t have the name “Mulching it over” for nothing. A mulch of leaves enriches garden soil slowly as it does naturally in the forest by decaying from the bottom up. Mulching is easiest done by shredding leaves first. Running over them with a power mower is an easy way to shred leaves. A four-inch layer of shredded leaves over your ground will provide steady decay, feeding plants all winter long and getting them off to a rousing start come spring.

Composting. Nearly everyone has heard of it, but probably few have tried composting. The fact of the matter is, composting is not that difficult and can save a lot of money by eliminating the need to buy commercial sacks of compost. The simplest method is the so-called pile method. It involves piling up leaves and grass clippings and covering them with a tarp. All you need to do is sprinkle them with water every so often and turn the pile over with a pitch fork.

There also are many commercial composters on the market that advertises turning garden waste into rich compost in just 10 days. I don’t know about you, but why rush? Let nature do it’s thing, and, a few months from now, your leaves, grass clipping and kitchen waste (such as egg shells, coffee grinds, banana and apple skins, etc.) will have turned into mulch.

So don’t just pile up those leaves and throw them away. Make use of them in your garden. You’ll end up with richer garden soil.

Please leave a comment


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here