November 1, 2009. Ahh Fall. When trees so easily offer their leaves back to the earth. Leaves cover everything – porches, patios, lawns, and gardens. I continue miss the opportunity to collect enough of these leaves into accessible piles where they will naturally follow the steps of decomposition and become leaf mold. Often, at this time of year, my husband and I are strapped for time and anxious to get the next load of leaves off the lawn. So we blow or rake them into the adjacent woods. Sounds perfectly normal. But when I want to access what, after a couple of years, has become leaf mold, I have to struggle through fallen branches, rocks, tree stumps, and uneven, sloping grounds … and this is a Gardening Oops – what I call GOOPS.
Today, being the first of the month, I share one of my gardening faux pas. We all make them, and with so many gardeners out there, there must be a zillion GOOPS. So I try to harvest some of these GOOPS here, where we can share in the bounty of other gardeners’ mistakes. I go first, and hope you will share a similar or completely different GOOPS of your own. What better way to learn if not from others’ mistakes?
I’ve made feeble attempts at creating leaf mold in confined areas. Next to my 3-bin welded-wire compost area, I have 3 similar bins that I fill with a blend of shredded leaves and lawn clippings or just raked leaves. I end up using at least one of these bins to cover the kitchen scraps added to the compost piles during the winter. This method is a convenient way to keep composting materials handy to the compost pile, but it’s not the best way to make enough leaf mold.
What I should have been doing – and pledge to do this year – is create a large leaf pile in a shady, easily accessible – but inconspicuous – spot. Then I need to surround this pile with a big round of welded wire (4 or 5 feet tall). This will keep the leaves from blowing – a significant issue in my southern Connecticut locale. After a couple of seasons the pile will have compacted down to rich, earthy-smelling leaf mold, and I can simply remove the wire and dig out the black gold for mulching or use as a soil amendment. For additional information on the benefits of leaf mold, read Lee Reich’s article in Fine Gardening.
That’s my GOOPS for this month. Now it’s your turn. Don’t be shy. If you need a little nudge on ideas, look back on other GOOPS posted in the past. If you have your own blog, post your GOOPS there, but give us a good teaser and a link to your blog in a comment here.