The Urban Forest
When I think autumn, I think leaves. Crunching along beside curbs cluttered with the bounty of fall litter. These gold, orange, brown and red riches fall in the urban forest just like they do in the wild but instead of enriching the soil, they are carefully removed, bagged and placed at the curb for pick up.
Leaves litter a suburban street.
Now don't get me wrong, I love bagged leaves. When I get a chance, I haul them back to my property where they are transformed into leaf mulch for perennial beds, path material, compost browns, insulation for tender crops and leaf mould. However, I feel a bit guilty taking from others who have not learned to appreciate this harvest time bounty. Not only are they missing out on a great soil conditioner, but it is easier on the back too since as an adult, fall memories contain a fair amount of raking.
My leaves are left if they flitter to a mulched path, perennial bed or beneath the hedge where they act as weed surpressers. Since my veggie patch is made of raised beds, leaves naturally settle on the pathes, locking teeth and becoming an effective mulch. Those that litter the lawn are mulched by our lawn mower and either left there or collected in the lawn mower bag. This rich mixture of grass clippings and leaves is then spread on the perennial beds. What remains to rake is only our patio stones and the rock path. Any extra leaves are left in a pile by the composter to add as part of my 'brown' layer, or to decay into leaf mould, a wonderful topdressing for the garden. Of course, if I'm making a new garden bed, the leaves are part of the organic layer I place on top of the sod.
Big Brash Brassica
But this is not the end to my leaf harvest. Brassicas make up a big portion of my fall garden as they are cold tolerant and tend to grow better in the cool, fall weather. Here my eldest daughter (her hand for scale at the top right) shows you some supersized greens: leaf broccoli, kale, chinese cabbage and a baby mustard leaf. They were whizzed up and added to a pancake recipe to make a savory base for curry. The kids loved these pancakes which did not taste that green (a plus for them).
As December begins, leaf harvest is almost at an end. The trees stand naked and the brassicas are braving the bracing wind. All is waiting for snow.
Seeds, glorious seeds. I'm pleased to say that I have had lots of requests for seeds (see side bar for seed list) and another batch of mailings will be going out this week. They may take a bit longer in this Xmas rush but hopefully they'll be there shortly.
Wondering where part three of the Soil Scars and Dressing your Dirt went too? I felt like a leafy interlude but Part III on specific veggies will be here next week, promise.