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In my yard, I try to let no organic matter go to waste. What am I talking about do you ask? Read on!
1. Save Your Leaves
In the fall I save every single leaf that I rake. I load them onto tarps and drag them to their hiding spot behind my shed. Do you see my stash? They are hidden from the street but easy to access when I need them.
Why do I save my leaves? They made great, free mulch for my vegetable garden. I let the leaves decompose a bit over the winter and then spread them around my garden. They enrich the soil, plus they make my garden almost weed free.
My town has a terrible deer problem and growing a garden would be impossible without a deer netting fence backed up by an electric fence. It’s not pretty, but I do what I have to do to get fresh vegetables.
The area in the picture below was mulched with decomposed leaves earlier this spring. I’ve had to pull a weed here or there but this bed has essentially been weed-free since the mulch was applied.
A hodge-podge of plants grows here. Protected by deer netting is a Hydrangea that I won last summer at a cook-out, some Boxwoods that I’m nursing into bushes to use elsewhere in my yard, my herb garden, and Dahlias that so far are refusing to grow. If you are wondering why my yard is brown, we killed it on purpose to try to eradicate my lawn enemy, Bermuda grass. The battle wages on!
2. Magnolia Leaves
Do you have a Magnolia tree? My grandfather called them “trash trees” because there’s always something to clean up around them year-round. Magnolias shed their leaves in the spring instead of the fall. I don’t let those leaves go to waste either. They make a good mulch for pathways or for hidden areas in the yard that need mulch but I don’t want to waste my “pretty mulch” on.
I can’t say enough good things about this. We save every compostable scrap from our kitchen for the compost pile. I keep a bowl under the sink and carry it to my pile when it is full. It doesn’t smell and along with recycling, makes us have very little trash. I’m a lazy composter. If you aren’t lazy, you layer browns and greens, make sure it is slightly moist, and turn it frequently. I pile mine up and wait for the bacteria to do its work. The reward is beautiful “black gold” that I mix into my garden or flower beds.
The one thing that I’m careful about with my compost pile is not putting weeds into it. I throw those over the fence into my neighbor’s bamboo pit being careful to spread them out so that they dry and have no chance of surviving.
I’m probably one of the few people in our area who doesn’t pile every branch or stick onto the street for the city to pick up. Mine go down the hill to a gigantic stick pile. These can be chipped for free mulch. Full disclosure – we haven’t chipped anything in years. The belt on our chipper slips making it a scary chore. One of these days we’ll get it fixed and I’ll have plenty of free mulch to use for pathways. In the meantime, I’m sure this stick pile is home to many animals.
I would need quite a few more loads of “pretty mulch” if I didn’t save my leaves. This fall when you are raking, consider saving your leaves to use for next year. Your garden will thank you!
I’m sharing with Amanda’s Weekend Bloggy Reading Party.