Friday, November 13, 2009

Tribute to Fall

I took these pictures a few weeks ago when the colors were at their peak.  One shot from the backyard and the rest are from the Morton Arboreteum in Lisle, Il.  I try and hike there a few times a week. 


Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Leaves. Beginning mid-October and until mid-November, leaves occupy every weekend. If I am not at the arboreteum, hitting the trails, I'm in the yard, dealing with the endless leaves.

Once upon a time we used to bag them whole and put them by the curb and pay to have someone take them away. That got pricey. We have 35+ trees on our lot and we were spending big bucks having them hauled away. That practice morphed into leaf chopping. We would spend the entire weekend blowing all the leaves into the driveway into a huge mound and then spend a couple of hours going over them with a lawn mower to chop them into fine particles. This created a new problem, ridiculously heavy bags. The picker upper people refused to pick them up. The light bulb moment came when a woman at my husband's work offered to take them all off our hands every year forever...for her garden.

Before this time, my relationship with leave clean-up was not positive. Once we blew it off, got a week straight of rain and went out to find an completely dead and rotting lawn. I resented having to spend the last great weather weekends with this chore. That was before I knew the magic of leaf mold.

Now things are very different. I have kids that are old enough to really help and young enough to still respond to bribes. Judicious pruning has reduced the overall amount of leaves we have to deal with, but most importantly, I have tasted the magic that leaf mold does for the soil. We are probably 3/4 done with it for this year. This was the easiest year yet. Instead of blowing 100% of them into the driveway, I blew a bunch of them into the beds and just chopped them to smithereens there. From the driveway I still have 14 full bags of very fine mulch to spread around but I'm not giving any away. This stuff is gold!