There’s Gold in that there Yard

Hello – I published this post four years ago when I realized that so many of my neighbors were raking leaves and then giving them to the waste collector. Where they went from there, I had no idea.

And now that I’m back in Florida for the winter, my waste management collector reminded me about putting out my yard waste on the same day as recyclables and garbage.

Wait a second – those large sycamore leaves piling up in our front yard, are gold for other areas of our yard and garden. We will rake them into places where they can do their job – decompose and help other things grow.

So without any more hesitation, here’s how we deal with the autumn gold.

goingdown1
Yesterday I read in the newspaper that leaf pickup begins in our area this week. I’m shaking my head in amazement that leaves are raked, put into garbage bags (biodegradable, but still. . .), and left on the curb for the waste management crews to haul away to where we know not.

But there are ways to know where those leaves go when you leave them in your yard. With that said, here’s my annual (second, no less) installment on the golden opportunity provided by those leaves littering your yard right now. So here goes:

Raking leaves into piles and then burning them was a tradition from my childhood. When I became an adult, I realized this was one tradition that needed to go. We don’t need to send more smoke up into the air. In many townships, municipalities, and regions of the United States, the act of burning leaves is in violation of the law. In in many areas under drought conditions, burning leaves is an absolute no-no.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns against the burning of leaves because it causes air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards. Sending them to the landfill is no longer an alternative in most communities because of already overburdened landfills. Besides, putting them in plastic trash bags and hauling away organic matter to the landfill makes little or no sense.

It’s still a good idea to get most of the leaves up off the grass. However, leaving a few on the ground will provide some great fertilizer on the soil as they decompose.

We have more than an acre in our backyard where three old maples made themselves at home decades ago.

Right now the yard is beginning to look more gold than green as the leaves begin their descent from the limbs. I wait to do my magic until most of those limbs are bare. Yesterday I mowed  one last time with our tractor. I mowed right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces. I mow carefully making sure to blow the leaves into long piles. Around the trees, I make sure the leaves blow around the base.

With the remaining leaves,we load them either the tractor trailer or wheelbarrows and haul the piles over to the garden We place the chopped up leaves on the almost barren garden. We’ve never had a problem with mold developing as I’ve heard some people say, but maybe it’s because we use chopped up leaves rather than putting them on whole.

The rest of the leaves we put next to our compost bin and use them throughout the winter as layers between our food scraps. If you prefer, you could even bag them and keep them in the shed to use as needed.

If you don’t have a garden or you don’t compost, look for gardeners in your neighborhood. Some of them may be eager to haul away your leaves after you’ve raked them. But if you have shrubs, they make a good protective layer around those as well. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.

What do you do with your raked leaves?

There’s Gold in that there Yard

@PCZick
Yesterday I read in the newspaper that leaf pickup begins in our area this week. I’m shaking my head in amazement that leaves are raked, put into garbage bags (biodegradable, but still. . .), and left on the curb for the waste management crews to haul away to where we know not.
But there are ways to know where those leaves go and that’s by leaving them in your yard. With that said, here’s my annual (second, no less) installment on the golden opportunity provided by those leaves littering your yard right now. So here goes:

Raking leaves into piles and then burning them was a tradition from my childhood. When I became an adult, I realized this was one tradition that needed to go. We don’t need to send more smoke up into the air. In many townships, municipalities, and regions of the United States, the act of burning leaves is in violation of the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns against the burning of leaves because it causes air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards. Sending them to the landfill is no longer an alternative in most communities because of already overburdened landfills. Besides, putting them in plastic trash bags and hauling away organic matter to the landfill makes little or no sense.

It’s still a good idea to get most of the leaves up off the grass. However, leaving a few on the ground will provide some great fertilizer on the soil as they decompose.

We have more than an acre in our backyard where three old maples made themselves at home decades ago.

Right now the yard is beginning to look more gold than green as the leaves begin their descent from the limbs. I wait to do my magic until most of those limbs are bare. Yesterday I mowed  one last time with our tractor. I mowed right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces. I mow carefully making sure to blow the leaves into long piles. Around the trees, I make sure the leaves blow around the base.

With the remaining leaves,we load them either the tractor trailer or wheelbarrows and haul the piles over to the garden We place the chopped up leaves on the almost barren garden. We’ve never had a problem with mold developing as I’ve heard some people say, but maybe it’s because we use chopped up leaves rather than putting them on whole.

The rest of the leaves we put next to our compost bin and use them throughout the winter as layers between our food scraps. If you prefer, you could even bag them and keep them in the shed to use as needed.

If you don’t have a garden or you don’t compost, look for gardeners in your neighborhood. Some of them may be eager to haul away your leaves after you’ve raked them. But if you have shrubs, they make a good protective layer around those as well. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.

What do you do with your raked leaves?

Roasting the Perfect Marshmallow – A Lesson for Life

They’re life’s cushions against a hard world. Live from the Road – P. C. Zick

 

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

The smell of burning leaves and the taste of burned marshmallows forever mark the autumn season of my youth in Michigan. Once we’d piled all the leaves between the street and sidewalk, I forgot about the blisters on my hands from spending an entire Saturday raking the leaves into piles. The anticipation of jumping into the piles took away the pain of the wooden handle against the tenderness of my soft young hands.

autumn beauty

During those early years of burning leaves, I perfected the art of roasting the perfect marshmallow. Now that burning leaves is no longer a safe or healthy option, [see my post on this topic], I rely on my memory to reflect on my marshmallow culinary arts.

Patience is the key to lightly browning the outside to create a crust while allowing the insides to melt gently. When it comes time to place the marshmallow on the chocolate resting on a graham cracker, the gooey innards of the marshmallow melts the chocolate and creates one of the best desserts known to man, woman, and child. S’mores are well-named because that’s exactly what we mumble as we eat the first one. “I want s’more,” we say as we scrape goo from our chin, mouth, and hands.

Then the process begins all over again: finding the hottest coals – not the flame of the fire – and slowly turning the marshmallow until it’s a golden brown. All the while, observing and waiting.

Creating the perfect roasted marshmallow requires qualities beyond putting a white blob on a stick; it requires patience rather than instant gratification. Whenever I’ve tried to roast it any faster, I’ve ended up with a burned marshmallow with raw insides. Same thing happens in real life and the ensuing mess isn’t pretty. Savoring the anticipation of jumping in the leaves or devouring my favorite dessert makes the wait worthwhile.

The next lesson from my marshmallow musings requires staying out of the flame. Living constantly in the middle of chaos and cacophony creates a life of excitement for sure, but the heat burns fast and harsh, leaving little behind but ashes. Staying away from the center of the flame still creates plenty of heat without all the drama.

Observing and remaining focused on the immediate has always been a challenge for me. But again, the marshmallow stands to teach me another lesson. Always wanting more, always remaining in the flame, and always pushing for center attention is as bad as eating a charred marshmallow with rake blisters on my palms, and unmelted chocolate on my S’more. Once I chose patience over pushing, heat instead of fire, and observing rather than starring in every scene, life became easier and simpler.

Many think of spring as the time of new beginnings, but for me it is always autumn that brings renewal. It’s the time of storing and savoring the fruits of the harvest after a long hot summer. And while I no longer burn my leaves from the yard, I still savor the marshmallow, a food to provide us with a cushion as we face the vagaries of life.

Falling Leaves – A Yard Full of Gold

leaves before the fall

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Raking leaves into piles and then burning them was a tradition from my childhood. When I became an adult, I realized this was one tradition that needed to go. We don’t need to send more smoke up into the air. In many townships, municipalities, and regions of the United States, the act of burning leaves is in violation of the law.

The Environmental Protection Agency warns against the burning of leaves because it causes air pollution, health problems, and fire hazards. Sending them to the landfill is no longer an alternative in most communities because of already overburdened landfills. Besides, putting them in plastic trash bags and hauling away organic matter to the landfill makes little or no sense.

It’s still a good idea to get most of the leaves up off the grass. However, leaving a few on the ground will provide some great fertilizer on the soil as they decompose.

We have more than an acre in our backyard where three old maples made themselves at home decades ago.

turning the ground gold

Right now the yard is beginning to look more gold than green as the leaves begin their descent from the limbs. We’re waiting now until most of those limbs are bare. When that happens, we plan to mow the grass one last time with our tractor. We’ll mow right over the leaves, chopping them into smaller pieces, which we’ll blow into long piles. From there it’s easy to put the leaves wherever we decide we want them.

waiting for mower

First, we put a protective layer around the base of the trees from where they fell. Then we load up the wagon several times and haul the piles over to the garden where we place the chopped up leaves. We’ve never had a problem with mold developing as I’ve heard some people say, but maybe it’s because we use chopped up leaves rather than putting them on whole.

garden is ready for some organic material

The rest of the leaves we put next to our compost bin and use them throughout the winter as layers between our food scraps. If you prefer, you could even bag them and keep them in the shed to use as needed.

If you don’t have a garden or you don’t compost, look for gardeners in your neighborhood. Some of them may be eager to haul away your leaves after you’ve raked them. Remember, the leaves are organic matter, so it just makes good sense to use them accordingly.

What do you do with your raked leaves?