- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
Fall is a well-named season. Downed leaves are filling rain gutters, carpeting lawns and blowing into the nooks and crannies of yards all over Solano County.
I’ve noticed something that accompanies all those leaves hitting the ground, and it’s just as annoying: leaf blowers.
(I promise this will not be a screed on blowers. They have their place in modern yard maintenance. But do we really have to fire up those blowers at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday? And, honestly, does anyone rake anymore?)
All of this begs the question: Do we really need to clean up and haul off all those fallen leaves, only to turn around and buy bags of mulch for our yards? What’s the research-based word on using our leaves as “free” mulch? The University of California Cooperative Extension Central Coast & South Region Center for Landscape and Urban Horticulture has created a list of the pros and cons of mulch that’s very helpful. Bottom line: It does indeed pay to use your own leaves as mulch. It helps to control weeds, conserve moisture, moderate soil temperature, enhance water absorption, prevent erosion, and enrich the soil.
The key is to use only healthy leaves. Don’t toss in the mildewed grape leaves or the rust-infested rose leaves. Do consider using those pecan or walnut shells as mulch.
Another suggestion I’ve seen in the quest for successful mulching is a leaf shredder. Or, if you don’t want to go out and pay for a shredder, use your lawn mower to chop up the leaves, gather them up and spread a 2- to 4-inch layer around your plants. Remember, mulch should be used as a top dressing only. Do not mix raw mulch in with your garden soil, as it will deplete the nitrogen level in your soil as it decomposes.
My husband rakes up the leaves on our property and tosses them into compost piles. We eventually get lovely shovelfuls of leaf mold, compost that uses only leaves. Here’s a link to another UCCE article on making leaf mold, which you can use as a soil amendment or mulch.
- Author: Cheryl A Potts
Those of us of a certain, vague age know--really know--time speeds up as we mature. Another birthday, already!? Christmas shopping, already!? I just put my fall/Halloween decorations away, and it is time to plan my family Easter dinner, dye eggs, and place those cute bunnies in appropriate places throughout the garden, already!?
So we arrive home after a week of summer RV camping and the garden is overflowing with zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and chard; but what is in my mailbox? Seed catalogs telling me it is time to start my fall/winter garden. Already!?
My bell peppers are just coming in, but I am being told it is time to plant broccoli. A ton of chard is available in my garden, but I am being told to get those kale seeds in the ground, not to mention twelve varieties of lettuce. Apparently, I need to get beets in the ground where my egg plant is just getting ready to hatch.
When does a veggie gardener rest? When can I just take a break from planting, picking, watering, mulching, composting, planning, pruning?
At the beginning of every spring, looking forward I say, "no winter garden this year. Let's take a break". Every fall, still looking forward, I say, "no summer garden this year. Let's take a break". My husband just looks at me, smiles, and says, "Give me a break."
So which garlic should I plant this winter?
- Author: Patricia Brantley
It’s as if during the transformation of summer to fall, that the earth (substitute here whatever you like, world, universe, creator, etc.) is being philosophical. It’s expressing its grasp on the understanding that all things change. We get to see the explanation of that lesson through the changes that we see around us. Sometimes the beauty of the change of a season is magnificent and awe-inspiring. The leaves change colors and some plants flourish. Sometimes the reality of the change hits us as we look at bare trees or blackened plants after a hard freeze. We are left only with the memory of what once was or the joy it brought us. With that thought, I decided to root around (pardon the pun) for some quotes that might express more clearly what many of us gardeners and non-gardeners feel during this thoughtful time.
“He plants trees to benefit another generation.”—Caecilius Statius
“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.”—May Sarton
“I think this is what hooks one to gardening: it is the closest one can come to being present at creation.”—Phyllis Theroux
“If a tree dies, plant another in its place.” –Carolus Linnaeus
“Autumn wins you best by this, its mute appeal to sympathy for its decay.”—Robert Browning
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”—Albert Camus
- Author: Janet Snyder
My poor garden is so confused! It is November, correct? I was outside, in shorts and sandals, watering my thirsty plants in the heat this week. So many of the trees have not turned color and started to drop leaves yet. I'm usually doing some pretty heavy raking of leaves by now. I'm wondering if and when fall will arrive here in California.
In spite of the unusual weather, I did do some random fall chores outside. I went ahead and took out the tomato plants, picked the pumpkins and discarded the vines in anticipation of the possible upcoming frost next weekend. The morning glories have continued to bloom every day, although not as profusely. Even so, I pulled down the vines and tossed them in the compost bin. Various perennials were in need of deadheading, so I took care of that. What leaves are falling were raked up, as I don't want to encourage the various fungus and bugs that love their habitat to take over (I have enough trouble keeping rust and black spot at bay as it is on my roses!). I mowed the grass, hoping that if we do have a frost, it'll be the last time I have to mow until springtime.
Turning to my patio, the outdoor furniture is now all under cover from the rains. The summer annuals in the pots were still looking pretty, but I'm ready for winter annuals. So…I pulled out the salvia, petunias, and begonias, cleaned the pots, added fresh soil, and put in some beautiful pansies and cyclamen. With the freshly picked pumpkins next to the pots, it looks much more like fall on the patio.
I hope fall arrives soon!
- Author: Georgia Luiz
As I was beginning the fall garden clean up, I started to notice how much I missed seeing the ground in my garden. It seemed like there was no safe amount of pruning possible. That's when I realized that, a lot of these plants went in three years ago when there was tons of room for little gallon sized creatures to bloom their hearts out. Now all I see is different shapes and shades of....green. Oh well, no matter. It just needed some selective relocation. Clearing away perfectly good seedlings, cuttings, and pups. Then I got to thinking, what if we, the MGs had a trades page? Somewhere we could post what we have and what we want. It could be anything garden related, not just plants. It always seems someone has an over abundance of one thing and a dearth of another. There's probably all sorts of holes in this idea, admittedly, I haven't thought it out super thoroughly. If any of you have any suggestions on this, I'd like to hear them. Besides, it's more excuses to hang out together!