Urban Foraging: Leaves, Leaves, Leaves!

IMG_5995“Harvesting” and “raking leaves” don’t seem to go together as concepts, but my daughter and I harvested and put up leaves this morning. We raked and tarped enough leaves to allow me to continue composting all our chicken and kitchen waste through the winter with some left over to mulch the back flower beds in the spring.

Last week, we gathered up the chopped and combined grass and leaves from the curb by another neighbor’s house. Grass clippings and leaves make a wonderful mulch. The leaves keep the grass clippings from matting together and cutting off air circulation, and the mixture doesn’t blow away on blustery fall days. (One year I raked all of our leaves onto my flower beds and the next day a big wind came up and blew them off the beds and completely out of my yard! All that work for nothing!)

IMG_5999To get enough leaves for composting and mulching, we had to rake the neighbor’s yard and pick up all the leaves another neighbor had raked to the curb. Our village comes around on Mondays with a big vacuuming device attached to a truck to remove all the leaves from the gutters. They take these leaves by the truckload out to the village composting site and make a huge pile, which will break down to dirt by the following year.

People are welcome to come out and take from these piles at any time the site is open. We loaded a couple of 35-gallon plastic garbage cans with finished compost to add to our southside  asparagus and rhubarb bed. I will layer on raw chicken manure, leaves, and chicken yard hay as the winter progresses.

Our soil is thin over rock, so I have used harvested and piled leaves to build soil. I start with a layer of cardboard over sod and then pile whatever organic matter I have in layers. I have been doing this for many years to create new garden beds. Leaves are a cheap soil builder that add trace minerals as well as structure to the new soil.

We used the tarp that covers the pile to gather the leaves and drag them to the pile. Now it will protect them from winter winds, ice, and snow!

We used the tarp that covers the pile to gather the leaves and drag them to the pile. Now it will protect them from winter winds, ice, and snow!

I am sure that some of my neighbors consider me a tad eccentric but my garden sure produces some nice tomatoes! Begonia

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