Tuesday, November 6, 2012

As the Leaves Fall

I was speaking with my friend peggy Lynch while we waited on line first thing this morning to vote.  Peggy was rushing off to work right afterwards. She does landscape design and we met when I taught my "Botany for Designers" course at the Boston Architectural College last fall. 

Peggy had just gotten a call from one of her assistants who told her yes, he remembered his gloves this morning. It was below freezing and she wanted him safe and comfortable.

"I've avoided buying a leaf blower so far," she told me (yay Peggy!!!) because I want my clients to pile their leaves on top of their flowe beds for compost. "But if we don't blow the leaves I need someone to help rake them up for me."

Peggy reminded me how useful leaves are as a mulch ingredient. They act as insulation but also, as they are broken down by microorganisms, they release nutrients of all sorts into the soil. Even if most of the micronutrients, minerals, and proteins have moved from the leaf into the rest of the plant before the leaf falls, there are plenty of nutrients that don't translocate.  Even if the leaf were all carbon compounds like cellulose (there's lots more in fallen leaves) the dead leaf has plenty to give back to the soil.

All good stuff to remember as we out our gardens to sleep for the season and get ready for the spring bulbs to pop through in a few short months.

No comments:

Post a Comment