Leaves and more leaves

Fall colors - a pleasure of the season. (photo: Lucy Martin)

Fall colors – a pleasure of the season. (photo: Lucy Martin)

November is coming, my least favorite month in this part of the world. Dark, damp, cold and gloomy – shudder!

Once snow arrives I’m happy. Until then though, November and early December are sometimes hard to take.

In contrast to all that, October can be delightful. This month has been quite mild and nice this far –  no hard frost as of yet in North Gower, Ontario. Flowers continue to bloom and we are still eating out of the garden.

How did you find the fall foliage show this year? I felt like some colors went missing, in my neighborhood at least.

Every fall I look for special tree-orbs of yellow or orange with stop-in-your-tracks stunning beauty. This time around, most of my favorites just sort of sputtered faintly before going right to brown.

Oh well. I’m sure they’ll put the grand show on again, sooner or later. At least the reds seemed pretty good this fall.

As leaves of any color go to ground, my back yard turns into mulch central. I set up a wire corral holding center. The neighbors and I pile tarps full and drag the haul there. Then I kick out a spread of that free bounty and mow it into submission. It is amazing how sizable mounds of whole leaves can be reduced to not very much at all. The chop disappears into the garden or serves as weed suppression in the flower beds.

A little time with a lawn mower turns the big pile into a flat pile. (photo: Lucy Martin)

A little time with a lawn mower turns the big pile into a flat pile. (photo: Lucy Martin)

The neighbors are a kind, retired couple. I pretend it’s because they are retired, but they keep a perfect yard, bless their hard-working hearts. They seem to rake every day. This puts more pressure on me, least my leaves blow into their yard.

I prefer to rake once a week, plus whatever tidying the lawn mower contributes, which is equal to twice-weekly clean up. They never complain and they bring me all their leaves. I hope there’s not too much resentment of my less-vigilant habits.

What you do to manage leaves? No doubt many of you have techniques and strategies ranging from benign neglect to ingenious re-purposing. Do tell!

My aunt – the permaculture advocate in New Mexico – favors bagging her leaves and using those bags as insulating cover over her root crops, which she says can then be harvested through most of the winter. The bagged leaves continue to decompose and are turned into mulch or potato bin bedding after they’ve served as crop blankets.

Is all that mulching or re-purposing worth the effort, compared to sending bagged leaves out for collection? (For those of you who have curbside collection, as we do in Ottawa. Including a green-waste stream.)

I find it rewarding. Every shovel of soil turns over worms and signs of teeming life. A fair number of interesting mushrooms and such pop up in different seasons. Bugs, birds and even small frogs abound. It feels like a healthy microcosm. That’s the goal, anyway. I think adding leaves to that mix helps. Bring ’em on!

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