Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Falling Leaves...

In my many travels centered around my career, I often get asked, what do I put in my soil to make my plants grow better????

Hmmmm…??? Each year around this time of year, I see so many folks gathering up the leaves, using leaf blowers or strenuous raking work… and then bagging the collection in big brown paper bags. You go by the curb side and see names like Home Depot, Rona, Canadian Tire, President’s Choice, Costco…and so on… People buy these bags because the city requires you to paper bag your organic garden waste…they spend money to advertise the big corporate logos and throw out the very stuff that makes soil healthy! Then they spend even more money the next spring buying compost rich soils from the same stores that sold the paper bags?...

Yes…organic garden waste….compost friendly materials…think of it this way, a tree spends it’s time growing and searching for nutrients in the ground. It sends out roots looking for water to help dissolve the solid nutrients in the soil…way below the surface. Then it takes those nutrients + water up through the trunk and through some miracle of nature…forms leaves! Yes it also forms more branches and adds layers to it’s trunk, but for the most part….a lot of what lays deep below in the soil, gets brought up to the surface through the leaves each and every year!

Now, what is the most common practice of the urban city dweller??? Rake up the mess!!! Why is it a mess? It is unsightly and looks as if the landscape is not swept clean! No tucking the dust under the carpets! Bag all the organic waste and put it on the curb…. Nature worked so hard to create that “waste”…why throw it out???? Compost it!!!

Leaf matter adds so much nutrients to the soil…sometimes even more then adding well rotted manure. A simple process of running your lawnmower over the leaf pile can shred the leaves into small clippings, easily devoured by soil insects and organisms once it is mixed into the surface of your garden’s soil. The end result?…Black gold…add to it your collection of spent coffee grounds (a source of nitrogen) for a natural slow release fertilizer along with eggshells (a source of calcium) and banana peels (a source of potassium)…and you have the makings of good growing soil from what most people view as garbage.