What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

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Saturday, 23 October 2010

Harvest the leaves!

This is indeed a time of harvest here at the Sustainable Living project. Peas, beans, tomatoes, hot peppers, sweet pepers, spicy lettuce, flat and curly parsley, oregano, mint, lemonbalm, stinging nettle, but most importantly leaves, leaves, leaves. It amazes me to see my neighbors bag up perfectly good, nutrient rich leaves and put them on the curb for "disposal". I'm collecting them as fast as I can. It must amaze my neighbors to see me drag their "waste" into my garden and pour them out around my trees, into my borders, and especially into leafmould piles, of which I now have 7. Each pile is approximately 4 or 5 ft in diameter and currently about 4 ft high. See picture.

I see the typical suburban lawn, surrounded by lovely trees, and see no leaves on the ground! Why do away with all those nutrients? They are natures way of recycling the nutrients that the tree has worked all year to dredge out of the ground. They then rely upon those nutrients that they drop beneath their boughs to break down, foster earth worms and fungi, and return the nutrients to themselves. Accordingly I have left the leaves my own trees, my colleagues, are dropping piled beneath them, adding to the piles in an attempt to reverse the decades of waste that has left the soil thin and hard, mostly clay. The leafmould I will reap from my piles will be added to the soil in the spring both as mulch and soil amendment. Think of it like a timed release vitamin, slowly releasing vital nutrients to the soil. It will also help the soil hold moisture. Additionally the earthworms that move into it over the winter will have enriched it with their castings, the fungi spreading throughout will help form a link between the nitroben fixing bacteria in the soil and the roots of the plants to enable them to take up the nitrogen.

What a wonderful soil amendment is leafmould. Pile em up, keep em damp, and in a matter of months you have leafmould, rich in mycorhizi, a good source of slow burn nutrients, and a particularly good way to add organic matter to your soil.

Here is a link to a document produced by GardenOrganic in the UK about making, using, and the benefits of leaf mould.
Make your own Leafmould

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