LEAF-ING THROUGH THE SEASONS, BY SHARON HANNA

The sight of falling leaves can bring bittersweet emotion….it’s the end of something, right? Nope. Those leaves are falling off because they are being pushed by the next set of leaves. If you look closely enough, you can already see the tiny buds.

Speaking of leaves, continue to make good use of them as they drift down from boulevard or yard trees. They are a free, local and sustainable source of valuable organic material and trace elements.

Leaf compost can be part of your own homemade potting soil as well, so we can leave peat in peat bogs where it belongs, making a home for  thousands of species of plants and animals.

You need a large heavy-duty plastic garbage bag, a rake, and something to poke holes:

1)    poke a dozen holes around the sides and bottom of the garbage bag.

2)    Rake leaves, place them in the bag. Add whenever you are in the mood to rake.

3)    When the bag is nearly full but you can still squeeze the top shut and tie it off, add some water.

4)    Shake the bag vigorously, then tie it with a couple of strong twist ties.

In one year or less, the leaves will transform themselves into beautiful, useable mulch which you can use on your garden.

MORE THINGS TO DO WITH LEAVES:

Use leaves to half-fill (or more) large containers in which you’ll plant bulbs, evergreens, etc. Use lots and lots of leaves, pack tightly. You only need about six inches of soil for bulbs, maybe a bit more for other plants depending on the size of the root ball. The leaves will very slowly and gradually decompose. Plant bulbs a little deeper than you would in the ground.

Even smaller containers can have a few inches of deciduous leaves in the bottom, especially if you’re planting bulbs. Fig leaves, for example. This is a fantastic thing to do with kids –and as you know, kids love to cut things – dullish scissors work fine with leaves.

Create an impromptu spring display in problematic rocky or tree-rooty areas: pile on a thick layer of leaves. Add a layer of topsoil, then lay bulbs in drifts – a way to make it look natural is to throw them down, then plant them where they landed. Cover with more leaves and a few more inches of soil. Firm soil, water well.

Keep a pile or bag of leaves near your compost so you can layer with kitchen waste

Layer leaves on perennial beds for insulation, making a leaf ‘down duvet’ for garden beds.

Top-dress tender, recently-planted herbs like rosemary and lavender with a covering of leaves if very cold weather is expected.
Plant garlic now through mid-November.  Choose a sunny area with rich soil, and remember your garlic will occupy that space for nine months or so. Plant the biggest cloves – eat the smaller ones – don’t peel them!

Cover each clove with 8 cm (3 in.) of soil, pointy side up, and about 16 cm (6 “) apart in rows 12 – 18” apart. Imported garlic from China will not grow properly in our climate and may have been treated with growth inhibitors to prevent sprouting.  For a very long article see:  http://www.ediblecommunities.com/vancouver/Gardening/sharon-hanna.htm

Lightly pile cedar boughs on areas planted with garlic; ditto broad beans, bulbs too, to dissuade critters like cats, squirrels. Squirrels dislike areas strewn with human hair – visit your local barber shop. It worked for me last year when the little bratty squirrels were eating my barely opened tulips in the front yard – they stopped after hair was applied.

Plant broad beans through mid-November, covering with 8 cm (3 in.) of soil, and enjoy them late May to mid-June! Their fragrant blossoms attract beneficial insects. They also attract aphids, but that’s a good thing because then you can grow nasturtiums.

Happy Fall….

 

 

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