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Trash To Treasure
October 27, 2014

Mother-In-Law's surgery went well,

Her heart was beating too fast.

They went up an artery through the groin area (I know, usual procedure) to fix a lazy flap or something along that line.

Out patient.

Home again and calling here 10 times a day, once more.

Today's (Monday) appointment was repair day on Yolanda's wheelchair.

Tomorrow her Gynecologist.

I'm an Old Pro at this now.

Drop Karen's car off Wednesday and take her to the dentist.

Plus our daily chores and routines.

I'm sure something will pop up for Thursday and Friday.

Only a couple more weeks, I think.

Of course there is the followup appointments for mom and November 4 is Yolanda's littler surgery.

Again, thank you for your prayers and support.

Finally, Sandhill Cranes (pictured at bottom).

Not a great photo.

They are after all high in the sky and a ways off.

I was bummed, I had seen or heard any this fall.

That ended, as I was blessed to see a couple different flocks this past week.

Fall cleanup is getting close to the finish line.

A couple of dry, above normal temperature days have made the difference.

It also put me outside more to hear the cranes.

There is still plenty of fall color to enjoy around here.

For another week anyway.

Then comes more cleanup for many of you.

Raking leaves.

How many of you raked piles, and then spent an afternoon jumping and playing in the leaves.

Eventually this pile was burned (a smell I miss).

Today's letter will help, and inform you.


&/*@%-~# leaves.

Isn't it funny?

In the dead of winter we gaze at a lifeless landscape, our trees stand bare.

In early spring, we can't wait for the tree buds to crack open and give our surrounding a bit of color.

In summer we appreciate their green canopies and seek out the cool shade that leaves provide.

For a few short weeks of autumn, we OOH and AAH over the colors that captivate, and leave us breathless.

Trips and weekends are scheduled around fall color tours.

This year was one of them.

Then, it is something like this.

"The last thing I want to do is waste a day, or weekend raking piles of leaves".

Fall leaves are rich in minerals and organic matter, and if you throw them away every year you will gradually make your soil less fertile.

Roughly 75% of the nutrients a tree takes in every year are stored in the leaves and 'Nature' intended for earth to recycle naturally.

When you fertilize your landscape, a portion of that fertilizer is used to make leaves, which are then shed in fall.

Much of the organic matter you use, ends up in tree leaves and the cycle continues (if you use your leaves).

I've been known to drive around my neighborhood in autumn and snag bags of leaves.

I solicit friends and family as well.

Why, you may ask?

Because there are so many ways to use them in the garden, and they are so beneficial.

I add dry leaves to compost, run as bedding, mulch with them, make leaf mold, and more.

Here are a few ways to recycle this valuable resource on your yard and in your garden:

A mulching mower works well, as will a standard type mower with the discharge chute closed.

Set the front wheels a notch or two higher (on a standard mower) than the back, to allow leaf litter to enter the mower housing, get chopped up a bit, and into the bag

Only mulch mow leaves (and grass for that matter), when the yard is dry because wet materials will quickly clog the mower.

Fallen leaves represent a natural, organic source of nutrients for your landscape.

If you bag them for curbside pickup and let your fees pay to have them picked up and hauled away, you're just "renting" fertilizer, not buying it!

In natural settings like forests and meadows, we see the leaf cycle operating as it was designed to do from the beginning.

Many communities collect and sell the fallen leaves and yard littler, then turn around and sell it to companies, or as mulch to to its citizens.In nature, leaves drop and collect as mulch, protecting soil from crusting, erosion, temperature extremes, drying out, and compaction.

In time they decompose, slowly releasing nutrients to growing plants.


Take a look at any forest floor and it is clear that 'Mother Nature' intended leaves to be mulch.

The only problem with using leaves as a mulch in the garden is they tend to form a dense, soggy mat when they get wet, which can smother any plants underneath.

The easiest way to get around this problem is to shred the leaves before you layer them over the soil.

You can collect the leaves off your lawn and shred them at the same time by mowing over the leaves with a mower that has a bag attached.

The mower sucks the leaves up off the lawn and mixes them with grass clippings.

This mix of grass (nitrogen) and leaves (carbon) stays nice and fluffy and decomposes more quickly than straight leaves.

A mulching mower works well, as will a standard type mower with the discharge chute closed.

Set the front wheels a notch or two higher to allow leaf litter to enter the mower housing.

Leaf blowers (and suckers) do a good job with leaves, as long as no twigs are in the pile.

For me..........

My 'TriVak' works wonders , even with small twigs.

colors are truly breathtaking.

A compost pile breaks down most efficiently when it is built with 1:3 ratio of green, nitrogen-rich ingredients (like grass clippings) to brown carbon-rich ingredients.

Leaves are full of carbon and make an excellent "browns" compost addition.

I like to stock pile bags of leaves in the fall.

I use them as insulation and protection on many plants.

I also have them on hand in the spring when I can place them in beds for multiple reasons.

Leaves do not go to waste around here.

Leaf Mold:

Leaf mold is just leaves that have broken down into a dark, crumbly compost-like material.

It couldn't be easier to make.

Just pile or bag some shredded leaves up and let them sit there until they decompose, which usually takes about 8 to 12 months.

I place some of these bags of leaves on top of tender perennials as insulation.

You will be amazed at what you can grow as perennials with a thick layer (bag) of insulation.

When mixed into the soil, leaf mold adds nutrients and keeps the soil light while also helping it retain moisture.

Once you discover leaf mold, you will wonder why you haven't done this before.

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 little effort now, produces big rewards later on.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week (listen up men).

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

"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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