Protecting Your Garden this Winter!

Metro Natural Gardening Specialist, Carl Grimm, says to put nature’s leaves to work for you

Where will all the leaves go?
Whichever side of the blow vs. rake fence you fall, the real question is what to do with the leaves. You can put them in your yard waste collection bin little by little or bag them and pay extra to have them carted away for composting at a regional facility. Both are good choices. But there's a third option that eliminates the work (and carbon emissions) created by hauling the leaves and puts them to work for you instead.

Leave some leaves on bare ground
Why not just let your leaves lie on bare soil? Make sure they’re about six inches deep or less and away from plant stems. They’ll help keep weeds down, prevent polluted runoff into rivers and streams, add nutrients to your soil and provide vital habitat for worms and beetles that make munching robins and towhees very happy.  The result? Less raking and bagging for you in the fall and less weeding in the spring.

Compost the rest
Whatever doesn’t fit on your garden beds as mulch can be composted for later use in a spring veggie garden.  Just put them in a pile and let them rot and they'll be ready to dig into your soil by May. If your compost is not quite fine enough, let it sit a few months longer and you'll have compost for fall plantings. If you want to make better compost faster, use a bin and follow the three basic steps for composting: 1) chop 2) mix browns and greens and 3) maintain moisture as damp as a wrung-out sponge.

Chopping compostables speeds the breakdown process. Mixing brown materials like fall leaves with green materials such as fruit and veggie trimmings or grass clippings balances the diet of the microbes that make the compost for you. Maintaining the moisture to the dampness of a wrung-out sponge ensures those hardworking microbes have just the right amount of water to do their job. Compost is ready when it looks like soil – anywhere from a couple of months to a year.

It’s easy
Leave your leaves in your garden and they’ll work for you by improving soil, suppressing weeds, protecting our rivers and streams and feeding local song birds. And you can leave the pesticides alone!

For more information on growing a beautiful, productive garden without harmful chemicals and for a free booklet, call Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000 or click here.



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