Inundated With Fallen Leaves

Have you been inundated with fallen leaves this year?  I observed that it was a good year for leaves this year.  I suspect that the greater number of fallen leaves, the healthier a year it has been for the trees.  Larry Williams writes a good article about what to do with those fallen leaves.  If you live in a more northern climate, you may have already had to deal with them.  If more southerly, you may still have to find something to do with your leaves this year.  Even if you are more northerly, you may be fortunate or unfortunate to have oak trees that drop most of their leaves in the winter but retain several for a repeat performance in the spring. If you have been inundated with fallen leaves, Larry has some good ideas regarding what to do with them.

Are you inundated with fallen leaves?.

Are you inundated with fallen leaves?

. . . don’t just throw those leaves away. They are a valuable resource in gardening. Leaves make good mulch when placed on the soil surface beneath and around shrubs, trees, perennials and annuals. Make sure to maintain the recommended 2 to 3 inch depth. Mixing leaves from several different species of trees can make better leaf mulch. This practice alters the texture of the finished product and allows for better penetration of water and air.

I have to admit that I didn’t do a great job this year of getting the fallen leaves out of the nooks and crannies around decks, foundations and flower beds.  In fact, the leaves that covered my deck got swept off and piled around the base of an old pin oak.  It literally was a fairly tall pile of a few feet.  An interesting thing to note, however, is that the pile of leaves around that tree is no higher than 6 inches, and I suspect that the hostas underneath that pile of leaves will poke through in the spring with no difficulty.  Larry has several good ideas regarding what to do with those leaves, and here is another one of them.

There’s an easier method for handling leaves but it requires an area of the vegetable garden or landscape that is not currently in use. Simply haul the leaves and spread a thick layer over the entire area, then till to mix them with the soil. Soil microbes will help decompose them, adding organic matter. After several months the area can be used for establishing the desired vegetation. With this method, the leaves are handled only twice — during loading and unloading, instead of the several times that conventional composting requires.

That’s a great idea if you have the space to do it.  Larry writes about several other methods of using those leaves, and you can read about them by clicking here or on the link below.  I have lots of leaves from several trees in my yard, and for the last few years I have been inundated with fallen leaves.  I found that I have been able to mulch the leaves with my riding mower.  It usually takes several passes to get leaves mulched into tiny particles.  When there is a real excess, and it is likely that too much of a good thing will kill the grass, I use a lawn sweeper to go over the lawn to pick up excess particles.  This works really great, because now I have tiny particles collected, much less volume than the whole leaves would have been, and I can use the tiny particles to mulch flower beds or put in a compost pile for quick decomposition.  Thanks, Larry, for the ideas, one of which is mulching leaves in the lawn.


Use Your Head When Buying Seeds

It’s about the time for seed catalogs to be arriving, and you’ll want to use your head when buying seeds.  There are so many enticing plants that are offered in those seed catalogs that it is sometimes hard to resist buying seeds for those interesting looking plants.  However, Joe Lamp’l has written a good article that should be the starting point for anyone buying seeds from a garden catalog.  He gives the reader the do’s and dont’s when buying from a seed catalog.  Looking at  it another way, you could say that you should use your head when buying seeds, because Joe gives you a lot of common sense in his article.

Use your head when buying seeds.

Use your head when buying seeds.

For anyone buying seeds online or through the mail, there are certain do’s and don’ts that will make you a smarter shopper.Two of the most common mistakes gardeners make when catalog shopping:
■ Overbuying. It’s like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. When it comes to gardening, even the most disciplined can find themselves impulsively adding seed packs to their virtual shopping cart. And at just a few dollars per packet, they seem so affordable. But beware. You’ll be surprised how quickly your order adds up.

For the second most common mistake gardeners make when catalog shopping, you’ll have to read Joe’s article.  I’ll give you a hint–do you know what your planting zone is? Something I like about Joe’s articles, several others of which I have curated in this blog, is that he always gives the reader some good, practical information.  In this article, there is no exception.  He gives the reader several of the “do’s” in purchasing seeds from catalogs.  Here’s one of them.

■ Plan ahead. In order to avoid the mistake of biting off more than you can chew, do a little advance planning. First, try to calculate how many plants you can realistically add to a given space.
Next, consider how much time you have to devote to planting and maintenance. Even if you have unlimited room, there’s still work to do in planting the seeds and subsequent care. Gardening should not be a burden or chore. Avoid the pressure of feeling like you need to plant everything you buy. By keeping it manageable to fit your schedule and lifestyle, you’ll likely order less than otherwise.

Joe writes about three other “dos” in his article, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below.  You would do well to read the article, because it might just help you to use your head when buying seeds.  You don’t want to spend more than you have to, and you want to make sure that what you do buy is worth the purchase price.  Joe shows you how to do just that.


Strange Ancient Gardening Tips

If you are living in London or are planning a trip to London, Henry VIII’s gardening manual containing strange ancient gardening tips will be on view next year. The manual is to be displayed to the public next year.  Caroline Davies writes an article in which she notes some interesting facts about Henry VIII’s actual gardening manual.  She notes that it is well worn, not because it is old and was abused as it passed down through the years, but rather because Henry VIII actually used the manual regularly and implemented its strange ancient gardening tips.

Strange ancient gardening tip about lettuce.

Strange ancient gardening tip about lettuce.

The world’s oldest gardening manual which was once owned by Henry VIII is to go on display, offering bizarre horticultural tips dating back more than 700 years. . .The manual, to be exhibited by the Royal Collection Trust at Buckingham Palace next year, is believed to have influenced the lost garden at Henry VIII’s Whitehall palace, a historical backdrop to the novel Wolf Hall.

Caroline notes some of the strange tips that you will want to read.  She notes that the book is written in Latin, so you may want to bring a Latin scholar along with you.  I suspect, though, that there will be ample explanations and interpretations of various pages of the manual.  Caroline gives the reader a history of the book and how it came to be in Henry VIII’s possession.  Interesting though that is, I am drawn to some of the strange tips.

Well-thumbed and annotated, it imparts green-fingered gems such as planting squashes in human ashes for quicker fruiting, using goat manure to grow tastier lettuce and the observation that cucumbers tremble with fear at thunder. Its illustrations include one of a mandrake, a plant with anthropomorphic roots and supposed supernatural powers familiar from Shakespeare plays and the Harry Potter books.

Another article, other than Caroline’s, which you can read by clicking here or on the link below, contained the information that the mandrake was thought to scream when it was dug up, killing those nearby.  One of the strange ancient gardening tips in Henry VIII’s manual might have been to never dig up a mandrake plant.  I don’t know what one  would do to get rid of it if it invaded your garden.  Perhaps Henry VIII would have given the job to one of his vassals.


Ways To Reduce Gardening Costs

If you’re looking for ways to reduce gardening costs, you’ll want to read the article written by Ron Rothroch.  Ron is a retired Master Sergeant and has many years of making his plants stand at attention.  Ron’s many years of gardening experience include landscaping, growing trees, berries, vegetables and fruit trees. If you’re on a short budget, or if you just want to cut back on your gardening expenses this year without cutting back on your garden produce, you can find ways to reduce gardening costs by putting some of Ron’s suggestions into practice.

7 ways to reduce gardening costs

7 ways to reduce gardening costs


My goal here is to inspire and inform you on various areas of gardening techniques while saving you time, money and effort.To garden inexpensively some tips include:

Don’t start too early. The last day for frost in central New York is around Memorial Day so planting flowers and vegetables, except for early planting peas, you may lose plants by putting them out too soon, I know I have.

It’s hard not to get overly anxious at the first sign of Spring’s warming.  Two days in a row of 65 degree weather can have we gardeners, housebound by the winter weather, anxious beyond all reason to start planting the next day.  Do so, and you’ll be guaranteed to lose those seedlings if you’ve planted before the safe plant date for your region. You don’t want to waste the money you’ve spent to purchase those seedlings.  You may be lucky if you plant before the safe date for your region and your plants survive, but the odds are against you.  It’s not worth it to possibly gain the slight edge on when those plants will bear fruit.  Here’s a way to really save money when purchasing seeds.

Buy seeds on sale. Seeds from catalogs can be a bit pricey plus shipping. Check clearance sections at local stores, seeds are still good from last year. Another thing to think about when ordering seeds are… if you are getting seeds from a warm climate, ie Florida or California; ask if they will they do well in New York? Ask where your seeds were grown before buying. Plants grown in a cool area of the US will grow much better in our area of New York.

You can read five additional ways to reduce gardening costs by clicking here or on the link below.  Ron also includes in his article a few helpful hints that you might want to try.  He writes about limiting the tilling in your garden for a very good reason.  It gets my vote, and it will yours too when you find out why.



Native Wildlife Drawn To Native Gardens

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it: native wildlife are drawn to native gardens. Wouldn’t you expect that creatures that are native to an area would most likely be comfortable and familiar with flora with which they are familiar?  I know that when I go somewhere new and find something that reminds me of home, I feel more comfortable and welcome. Karel Holloway writes an article in which he (pardon me, Karel if you are female) writes that a native yard is irresistible to native wildlife.  Native wildlife are drawn to native gardens, and there is good reason for us gardeners to attract them.

Growing Native Plants Has Ethical Implications.

Native wildlife are drawn
to native gardens.

The chirping of birds, the humming of bees, butterflies swooping from flower to flower. Add whirring hummingbirds, their jewel-toned wings creating streaks of color in the air. Such idyllic creatures can be lured to your garden by going a bit wild. . . “What we’re talking about is attracting wildlife that will be good for your garden,” says Kelly Conrad Simon. . . Wildscaping uses native plants to provide food and shelter that will attract wildlife. The other ingredient is a water source such as a fountain, small pond or birdbath.

Karel makes several good points in favor of growing a wildlife garden.  He notes that native plants are easy to grow, they require less care, they use less water, and they require less fertilizers, pesticides and other things we do to prod our plants into growth.  But why would you want to attract wildlife to your garden in the first place?  Don’t you want to keep the critters away so they don’t destroy your garden?  Remember, that some critters may destroy, but others provide what your garden needs to grow and flower.

Many butterflies are attracted by herbs, says Gayle Southerland, who lectures about attracting wildlife and is chairwoman of the North Texas Unit of the Herb Society of America. Once in the yard, butterflies will lay eggs and caterpillars will hatch. The caterpillars promptly start devouring plants, which can be hard for gardeners to watch, Southerland says.

Either allow caterpillars, which are beautiful in their own right, to eat what they will, knowing they will metamorphose into butterflies, or designate specific plants as hosts and move the caterpillars by hand to those plants.

While you can’t control what native critters will visit your wildlife garden, with judicious planning, you can orchestrate the way the critters visit your wildlife garden.  Read Karel’s article by clicking here or on the link below for some other thoughts on how native wildlife are drawn to native gardens.  Karel even talks about drawing toads to your garden.  Toads!?  Mosquito eating toads are okay in my garden.


You might enjoy reading Kelly’s book.

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