Our helper came over with his two children to rake leaves. He walked into the backyard and said, "Look at all the beautiful mulch!" I said, "Now you have the picture." All the sycamore leaves came down at once, and they seemed larger and more permanent than ever before. They caught the breezes better and heaped themselves up around the fence and almost blocked the gate. Still dry, they became airborne butterflies during raking. Some escaped to Mr. Gardener's yard.
Next was one of those moments that children provide. The little girl was standing like a statue - they only had two rakes. I suggested another chore, which she had done before. No response. I looked around and found the third rake. She grabbed it and started raking. They work for extra money and often find the ice cream truck soon after finishing. I invoked the truck but got no response. "Ice cream truck - where are you when we need you!"
Raking leaves is a lot of fun. We had so many in Bella Vista that our grandchildren joined me in raking them after the groundskeeper blew most of them into the ravine with his giant blower. Many people think of getting rid of the leaves, but I know leaves for what they are - free mulch, free fertilizer, free compost. Squirrels build their winter nests with them.
Leaves now cover the spinach that I started in the vegetable patch. They will come off when the spring thaw just begins.
We have topped off the compost bin with leaves - several times. The rest of them are moving to the back area for the bee and butterfly plantings next year. The compost will sink down all winter as the cold weather bacteria and moisture further reduce the pile, with the aid of many soil creatures.
First Cardinal at the Feeder
I installed the bird feeder near our bedroom window. I began the winter feeding with suet bags hanging from it. Daily doses of sunflower seeds on the window sill and ground have brought the birds to the feeder, which has more sunflower seeds.
A female cardinal appeared first, because the males are extra shy - or cautious - and let the females try out food first. Later this winter I expect groups of males to eat together since they are not competing for a spouse during the cold weather.
We have doves, chickadees, and finches so far.
I can buy a feeder with a microphone that sends bird feeding sounds into the house with a wireless speaker. I would rather just open the window a bit.
Move Aside Mulch
Planting time reveals one benefit of large swaths of Jackson Mulch - newspaper plus wood or leaf mulch. Instead of positioning new plants from the nursery in the lawn, or tearing holes out of the lawn, I will simply move aside some mulch, dig the soft moist soil, and push the mulch back around the plants.
Jackson Mulch stays in place a long time, so that makes later plantings much easier, when the clay soil starts to dry and get harder to dig. Weeds in new planting areas, especially along the fence, can be tough to dig through. Early mulching establishes a new soil culture, since x pounds of mulch, newspaper, and leaves will be transformed into food for soil creatures and plants - locked into place, unlike inorganic salts.
With seeds, the rows are mulched already, providing - soil creatures, a feeding frenzy for beneficial fungi, and a storehouse for moisture. The corn patch will be seeded carefully with a planting tool in the midst of the mulch. Some ugly neckties (faux-snakes) will keep birds away from the corn until the plants can become established.
Why Mulch Later?
I have a new row planned for the rose garden in front and another row parallel to the fence in back. Keeping my vow to buy no more mulch in 2014, I ceased shipments from Lowe's The front rose garden is loaded with hardy bulbs, including quite a few in the new row. I thought it would be easier to plant bare root roses first and mulch around them in the spring.
The fence row has a narrow band of mulch, which will be good for denying weeds a chance to grow up on my side along the fence.
|Get in touch with your inner St. Francis.|
Neighbors Recycle Newspapers
Our friends on the corner like the Sunday paper for coupons, and they give back the used newspapers when they are done with them. Yesterday I delivered the Sunday paper and got back a 30 pound sack of newspapers. I will probably rake leaves away in the back, lay down more newspapers, and cover them up again.
Long ago I read a book from the Grace Dow Library, about a man who built his own dam on his property, to create a new sanctuary for wildlife. He was astonished at the changes from having a body of water gathered, attracting waterfowl and hawks while watering the wildlife.
My little projects do not compare, but they cost a lot less. Everyone enjoys the difference they are making on our cul-de-sac.
|Goosefoot is a nutritious weed that plants itself and grows well.|