Saturday, November 05, 2011

Floor of Leaves

Saturday, November 5, 2011

23.1° with a 3 mph wind and a sharp cold that makes the morning dog walker walk faster. Karl the Wonder Dog was not the least bit enamored with the sky of stars and pulled hard on the leash to get back to the house quickly. He wore his "I don't like this a bit" face as if reminded that the joys of summer have passed. He is correct.

This part of the year is a time of flux for Vermont weather. Some days you really don't have a clue what the weather will bring and the weather forecasters seem to miss their mark often as weather here in Marshfield turns out different than predictions coming from Burlington or even St Johnsbury. Alex and I headed for Littleton, NH yesterday afternoon and when we hit Danville the sleet was pelting the truck at a 45° angle and some parts of the road were white while others were wet with rain. The tops of the White Mountains held up true to their name and Alex and I complained to each other about who would move the recently split wood that needs to be stacked for next year before the snow comes and doesn't leave.

In the world of gardening, I repeat myself a lot about fall opportunities and raking leaves. Few gardeners have really good soil but leaves are a great soil amendment and they have a place in your garden--not all leaves but most leaves. Vermont has a good collection of hardwoods and maples abound. There are ash, black cherry, white and yellow birches and some lesser hardwoods that are useful too. Trees with tannic acid should be avoided if possible because they tend to inhibit some seed germination and plant growth. Those involve oak, chestnut, black walnut, butternut, and sumac.

So even though it's colder out and the winds swirl, rake, vacuum or shred your leaves and get them into a compost situation for the winter or tilled into your gardens now. Some perennial flower growers and many nurseries use shredded leaves now as an annual mulch in lieu of the bark chips that used to be so popular. If you only have time to rake and bag your leaves this fall, stack the bags someplace out of the way and by spring, they will have begun to decompose and they will be perfect for you gardens. If you doubt the benefits of composted leaves it will only take one garden over one season to see the difference. And if you are a vegetable gardener, trips back to the house with baskets of produce will be the obvious result. Give it a try!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the only noise is the wind. The neighboring rooster down the road will not crow until 8:30 and a neighbor on the other side and up the mountain will not turn his sheep out until almost 9. No critter calls until then.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Call Gail for holiday or special occasion gift certificates with pictures of our flowers.

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