Monday, November 25, 2013

Peeking Under the Leaves

When you have over 100 trees on an acre, that makes for a lot of leaves in the fall.  That might be an annoyance to some, but we take it in stride, as we have for the 36 years we've lived here.  Since we've enlarged the gardens over the last ten years or so, we've actually welcomed the fact that we have plenty of leaves.

Leaves return rich nutrients back to the soil if allowed to decompose.  How do you think that beautiful, dark, loose soil that you find in a woods got there?  We have heavy clay as our natural soil type around here, but just go into a woods and dig around and you'll see something entirely different.  In most cases, you'll be able to dig without the aid of tools, just using your hands.

In a woods, the decaying process is ongoing - year after year, things die, they decompose, they grow, they die again.  And for the most part, the process is uninterrupted.  But in a garden, we control the environment and we change the natural process of things.  So sometimes we have to provide a little help with the decomposition and nourishing the soil part.

Here, we chop the excess leaves and add it to the compost bins.  Usually, all it takes is several months over the course of a winter for whatever we've put in the bins to decompose into rich, dark compost suitable for adding to our gardens.  But there are some places where we let the leaves remain.  Unless they're going to smother small perennials,  allowing some leaves to remain provides a winter home for beneficial insects.  Like ladybugs.

Don't worry.  I covered them back up.

They're all tucked away for the winter now.  I'd feel bad if I'd taken all the leaves away.  They would likely have found another place to stay but I want them here in my garden where they'll help control aphids and other pests during the growing season.


Susanne Drazic said...

Looks like you should have lots of ladybugs to help take care of your gardens. : )

Cindy Garber Iverson said...

Your blog post had the most perfect timing! I read it before venturing out in the garden yesterday to do some trimming of invasive ivy and vinca major that's grown through the fence from the neighbor's yard. I was trimming away for hours until I got to a section where there were fallen leaves. And then I started to spot the ladybugs. Your post popped into my mind, and I smiled... then I covered them back up and let them be.

Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

Kylee Baumle said...

Susanne ~ There is no shortage of them here! :-)

Cindy ~ Good girl!

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