Posted on | December 4, 2013 | 3 Comments
So I was minding my own business, driving a kid to town for basketball practice, when I saw it. Right there. Out in the open. For anyone to see.
15 bags of leaves. Huge brown paper bags. Filled to the brim with leaves. Stacked neatly at the curb for pick up.
I drove by slowly. Were those bags really at the curb? Was the person really putting those out for pick up? Were all the cars driving by not even slightly interested in those bags? Are there rules about taking someone else’s bagged leaves???
I know what you’re thinking. Since this is what I can see from my kitchen window…
…what the heck would I find appealing about bags of leaves?
Blame my enthusiasm for bagged leaves on this:
Yep. Last year I thought I saw some late blight on my tomatoes. But I’m not really sure. Because it could have been wilt. Or leaf spot. Or even early blight. Or nutrient leaching due to an extremely rainy summer. Since tomatoes can’t talk and every gardener has their own opinion on what these diseases look like, it was hard to say.
Regardless, one of my goals this year was to add a deep layer of leaves to the garden beds to get some distance from the possibly infected soil. By spring the leaves should break down and I planned to top them off with barn compost and only lightly mix it all together with the shovel—-without disturbing the old base soil. Hopefully the fungus would stay deep in the ground and even if it didn’t, the leaf mulch should stop it from splashing onto plant leaves and spreading. And the fresh compost might be filled with enough good microbes to combat anything that threatened to rise up.
I also planned to cover the beds with clear plastic for a few weeks in March to heat up the soil and kill off any remaining fungus. But since March is my birthday month, I don’t have any real expectations of that happening. Because I should be sitting on a beach with a drink in my hand and a glossy new pedicure on my toes at that time. Unless someone wants to cover my garden beds with clear plastic for me. As a birthday present. While I’m off celebrating at the beach. Hint, hint, wonder if I can make this repost to The Other Half’s email in March, hint.
But even if the plastic doesn’t happen, I didn’t have any excuse not to start building up the beds with leaf mulch now. And I certainly had plenty of leaves.
However, in order to cut down on the hauling of leaves, I prefer to rake and pile leaves as close to where they fell as possible. Leaves in the front yard get raked as mulch around whatever bushes, perennials, or flowers I am feeding to the deer that year.
When the bushes have had all the leaves they can handle I start piling them around the bases of the trees. Admittedly, in my desire to avoid hauling leaves out of the front yard, this baby magnolia probably got more than was necessary.
In the back yard, I rake the leaves over the rock wall and into the natural areas. By “natural areas” I mean the areas we don’t have the money, time, or energy to landscape.
Whatever is left after that, gets raked into the dog pen.
For the dogs to play in and dig in and snuggle in. If they ever got locked in their kennel. Which they don’t.
Leaves out of the ditches are raked right up into the wildflower or daylilies bed.
There are still plenty of leaves around here. Unfortunately, they have to be raked and hauled from the top of the driveway, where we have grassy areas, all the way down to the garden.
What? You don’t see the garden. Look for the white row covers. See it now?
Yeah. Looks like fun, doesn’t it? Which is why my heart leaped when I saw those pre-raked, pre-bagged leaves just sitting on the curb. And why I decided the next day was a good day to drive the kids to school in town. In the truck. As soon as we got to town, I dropped off the boys and then zoomed back to that house. Where the leaves were still there!!!
And then, while Pretty and Big huddled in the front seat, pretending they weren’t with me and had no idea who the crazy woman stealing leaves was, I piled all those bags into the truck bed. Then we proceeded to drive to their school to drop them off. Big was in charge of making sure that the leaves didn’t start flying out of the bags and he told me to slow down every time they did. Which meant we never got above about 35 mph. Pretty was in charge of keeping track of the cars stuck behind us. At first she reported 2 cars. Then 3. Then with a sigh, she said,
“Yeah, I don’t really know. We’re like a train.”
Look, people, I know you’ve got to get to work. But the speed limit in town is 35 mph. And it’s only 25 mph in the school zones. I’m not holding you up, I’m just keeping you from getting a speeding ticket. Yeah, you’re welcome.
And on the country roads the speed limit is always the speed of the farmer’s tractor or pick up truck in front of you. Everybody knows that. All the cussing and finger-waving in the world isn’t going to change that.
When I got home I was able to drive right up to the garden beds to unload the bags.
They were enough to completely fill 2 of the raised beds, 12-18″ high. Score!
Then, because the leaves came in those lovely paper biodegradable lawn bags, I was able to use the bags to cover the beds. To keep the leaves from blowing out. Double score! (Or field goal. Or free throw. Or, um,… check mate?)
Plus, by the time I finished, the fog and clouds were rolling in. We ended up with a steady rain throughout the night. And temperatures warming up to the 70’s over the next couple of days. Just perfect to dampen the new leaf piles and then start the decomposition process. Triple word score!!
Now I just need someone to move this last pile of leaves down to the garden to freshen up the beds for the squash and eggplants.
Yeah. That’s what I thought. Wonder where I can score some better helpers…..