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Trash to Treasue
November 02, 2015

Four days this past week were once again spent at the hospital with Yolanda.

Another bowel obstruction.

It was like a nightmare all over again.

Thank you Jesus, this time wasn't as bad as the last.

With medical help, we are determined to get on top of this issue.

Armed with new plans and diet, we march onward.

Little Snicker Doodles has captured our hearts.

(Akita tolerating Snickers the best she can.)

The other furkids haven't given in completely.

They are, however starting to show signs of softening toward her.

Potty training is a bit of an issue.

Karen got some potty pads, as Snickers wants no part of cold and wet feet as I take her out.

She comes up to me and will stand on my foot as best possible to get off the grass.

You want a pocket pooch, I guess you take the bad with all the good.

Don't you enjoy the smell of fallen leaves?

The olfactory never forgets a smell.

Peak fall color season is over here in southwest Michigan.

Oh, there are still several gorgeous tree out there.

Sweet Gums are just now hitting stride.

The small grove of Aspen in the woods just now turning yellow.

The neighbors maple has a tint of orange (pictured).

I touch on this subject more than I want to.

However, it is an important topic.

One I feel needs to be driven home.

Trash to Treasure.


(Sweet Gum Tree.)

The close of the gardening season is always bittersweet for me.

Evan though Autumn in Michigan is absolutely beautiful, it is too short.

(Besides, I'm never ready for what comes next.)

I dislike cutting down, and saying goodbye to all my plants.

Trading sun , blue skies, and the lush green world for one that's cloudy, cold, and eventually, white.

But there are also plenty of good things about fall.

Once we've had our first killing frost, the growing season is over.

It's time for pumpkins, apples, cider and doughnuts.

Winter squash, fresh potatoes, and cole crops.

And, now it's time to reap the season's most abundant crop:


The longer I garden, and the more in tune I become with the natural world, the greater my appreciation for the value of organic matter.

And one of the very best sources of organic matter is autumn leaves.

Rake em.

Bag Em.

A nice cardio workout, and free mulch/compost.

What a deal.

No leaves?

Snag your neighbors.

Leaves are a true trash to treasure.

Tree roots run deep, yards (meters), deep.

Sucking up all the nutrients and trace minerals that end up in the foliage.

50% to 80% of these nutrients end up in the leaves so you'll find tree leaves rich in trace minerals.

They are nature's nutrient recyclers.

Pay attention to this.

The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus.

Pound for pound, the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure.

For example, the mineral content of a sugar maple leaf is over five percent, while even common pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements.

Shredded and composted leaves

Add organic matter to the soil — always a plus — and help retain moisture.

Support good tilth, which refers to the physical qualities of soil.

Leaves help create soft, crumbly dirt in which roots thrive.

Enhances “microbial food web and biodiversity of soil”, you know, the underground life forms that help keep soil, and therefore plants, happy and healthy.

All you have to do is check out a forest floor.

Using Shredded Leaves:

If you have an abundant source of leaves in the fall, shred them.

Your garden will benefit in a big way.

Here how you use them.

Insulate Tender Plants:

A 6-inch blanket of leaves protects tender plants from winter wind and cold.

Cover cold-hardy vegetables—such as carrots, kale, leeks and beets—and you'll be able to harvest them all winter.

In more northern climates, you will want to use bags of leaves for this.

If the leaves are shredded, you can spread them around in the spring.

Boost Your Compost Pile:

Carbon-rich leaves balance high-nitrogen compost ingredients such as fresh grass clippings.

Improve Your Soil:

Mix shredded leaves right into your garden.

Next spring, your soil will be teeming with earthworms and other beneficial organisms.

Make "Leaf Mold":

Simply rake the leaves into a big pile.

If you shred them, they will decompose faster, but you can still make leaf mold without shredding.

After one to three years, fungus will have broken the leaves down to a special compost that smells like a walk through the woods.

Leaf mold is high in calcium and magnesium and retains three to five times its weight in water—rivaling peat moss, yet more nutritious.

Most leaves provide a high carbon source or "browns" for your compost.

Think Before You Shred:

Be careful with some kinds of leaves.

Walnut, eucalyptus, and camphor laurel leaves contain substances that inhibit plant growth.

It's best to compost these leaves before using them in your garden.

Be sure to chop or shred leaves before using them as mulch.

Whole leaves can form a slimy mat that water can't penetrate.

If you add shredded leaves right to the soil, add some grass clippings, or slow-release nitrogen fertilizers to help the leaves decompose and to ensure that soil microbes don't use all of the available nitrogen.

Again, these multicolored gifts from God are most valuable for the large amounts of fibrous organic matter they supply.

Their humus-building qualities mean improved structure for all soil types.

They aerate heavy clay soils, prevent sandy soils from drying out too fast, soak up rain and check evaporation.

Create Beneficial Insect Habitats:

Leaves can act as a refuge for beneficial insects, birds and other wildlife during the winter.

Rake leaves underneath hedges or place piles of them in an out of the way corner of your yard.

You can always use shredded leaves between rows of strawberries and a weed barrier for your asparagus patch, which in turn benefits you, your plants and wildlife.

In the circle of life, nothing goes to waste and fallen leaves are critical.

The cardio workout now (if you are able), produces big rewards later on.

There you have it.

God intended for nothing to go to waste, and it's a shame that millions of tons of leaves end up in our landfills, when they could be feeding the soil.

The soil that feeds all of your plants.

From the vegetables you eat.

To the flowers you plant to enjoy and attract wildlife.

Keep the circle of life going.

If you don't have enough leaves, ask your neighbor.

Be like me, snag bags of leaves from the curb.

Shree em, re bag em for later use.

Put a nice layer over your gardens now.

You know the saying

"One person's trash is another person's treasure".

Happy treasure hunting.

Well, it is time to go for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

Carl Sagan

I keep saying that God has plenty out there for us to know.... at his time.

Here is the word of God.

Think hard on this one.

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Jeremiah 33:3

Praise be to God.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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