Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fall......a season and not a chore

I find it humerous when people think about Fall, the first thing that comes to mind is leaf raking.  I can think of many things other than raking leaves to do at this time of the year. Let's start with the leaves.  Why not reuse, reduce and recycle them?  If you have lawn, use your lawn mower to chop the leaves up and then use them as free mulch, particularly in the beds where the soil could use some amending.  Here are two other fun ways to recycle those leaves:

Take that old trashcan, bore some holes in the sides and mix your brown leaves and your grass clippings with a scoop of soil...add a touch of water for the gravy (so to speak).  Turn this occasionally over the winter months and voila, by spring you have some halfway decent compost and some healthy worms.

If you have some natural burlap bags/sacks ( I purchased some from Plow and Hearth a few seasons ago - but they are easy to make) gather your leaves and put them  in the sacks to over winter.  Once again, add a handful of soil or compost a touch of water and allow nature to do it's thing.  Occasionally turn or move them so it will evenly decompose.  This is a great activity for young and mature gardeners.  The bags only hold so much, so they cannot get but so heavy.

I love all seasons but in autumn, each day brings different surprise. Today I noticed my Camellia buds are about to burst into bloom, the hosta leaves Re fading into shades of yellow ....brilliant and then fading into shades of gray. Some leaves are crunching on the ground, others hang on and begin the parade of color, familiar to us at this time of the year. 

So instead of dreading raking leaves, think about how you can enhance your existing garden with awesome fall color.  Some plants to consider....

Crepe myrtle leaves become a kaleidoscope of color, that turns from green to bronze to golden to gone.  Very little leaf litter from such a versatile, open canopy summer delight......

Dendrathema "Sheffield"  this autumn beauty gets 36" tall and has bloomedmfor me untilnright after Thanksgiving.  This is truly a plant that keeps on giving.  There is something about a fresh bouquet from the garden throughout the house at this time of the year.  I love supporting my local flower vendors, but I also love cutting blooming Camellias and Dendrathema from my own yard, as  a way to say Thank You for surviving yet another season.  My dad poses with his and makes wondefful holiday cards. 

Assorted maples - sunset, sugar and japanese maples also offer beautiful seasonal color.  As well as calyanthus, redbud...why there are so many options, dependant on your lighting, your space and of course what your taste is. 

So put on your pedometer, take a walk, notice the gaps and spend the winter thinking about how raking can be a bit more enjoyable....if you onky added a touch of autumnal color......
Finally, one can always compost the "Weekend Gardener"  way.  I dig a trench 10 inches deep and lay that soil in a row beside the trench.  Place a layer of leaves, moisten and then start another trench beside the first one, adding the soil you dig out from trench #2, to trench #1.  Repeat as often as possible.  I have heard that you can also add a thin layer of 10-10-10.....but as an Organic gardener, I only use natural products in my soils.   This is simply my personal choice.  Once again, in the Spring, you can plant directly into the rows. 

What a great way to enhance your soil and make that leaf raking not be such a chore!

Final tip - next season, grow some lemon verbena or lemon balm in a pot, so you can have some hot cider enhanced with lemon while outdoors enjoying the Autumn chill.

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