By contributing writer Laurie Neverman
October 13, 2008
Spend some time outside this week and there’ll be no doubt that it’s fall. Nature has put on quite a show in northeast Wisconsin, painting with a pallet of reds, golds and greens. Instead of sending these autumn leaves off to a landfill or even the yard waste center, put them to work in your own yard and garden.
Leaves are great for enriching the humus (organic matter) content of your soil. Look at the life that thrives in the bed of a forest. Leaves are rich in trace minerals that the trees have mined from deep within the earth, providing an excellent source of micronutrients for your plants (and you).
If you have a garden, you can till leaves directly into the soil in fall and by spring they will have broken down and the soil will be ready for planting. Alternatively, you can corral them in a sturdy wood or mesh fence and allow them to break down on their own, and then use them as mulch in the garden or around trees and shrubs. Running a mulching mower over yours leaves before applying them to the garden or composting them will speed their decomposition by increasing their surface area. You can also apply leaves directly to an area and allow them to compost in place, but sometimes they have a tendency to blow away before they do their job. Letting them rot down a bit before application helps avoid this.
If you have a small amount of leaves, you can mix them in your regular compost pile. Leaves are high in carbon, so they can be part of your carbon/nitrogen mix, but if you have a lot of leaves it may be easier simply to compost them on their own.
Enjoy our beautiful changing seasons and take advantage of this great free resource.
Drop me a note with your green questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Composting Leaves Can Create Perfect Soil Additive – detailed discussion of leaf composting
DON'T BAG IT LEAF MANAGEMENT – COMPOST – more leaf composting, with pictures, includes different types of in and out of garden composting
Leaves turned to mulch give yards a punch of nutrients – how to use your leaves around the yard
Common Sense Home Autumn Recipes
This week we have two recipes from Jayna Stein, homeschooling mom and member of North East Wisconsin Home Learners, and a not-too-sweet treat for the kids (and young at heart).
Sweet Potato and Apple Dish
6 medium apples, peeled, thinly sliced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup quick oats
1/4 teaspoons each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg
1/2 - 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Place the apples and potatoes in a greased shallow 2 1/2 qt. baking dish. Combine the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle on top. Cover and bake at 350° for 40 minutes. Then uncover and bake about 15 minutes longer or until tender. Can also add chopped walnuts or pecans to the topping.
2 pounds navy beans, soaked for 6-12 hours, drained and rinsed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2/3 cup organic catsup
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
6 T Eden organic Shoyu soy sauce
6 T pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt, or other unprocessed salt such as Real Salt
Soak beans in pure water to cover overnight. Drain and discard water and rinse beans in pure water and place in stock pot covered with pure water. Bring to a boil then turn heat off. Leave beans in covered pot for 1 hour. Drain beans – reserve liquid. Put everything in a crockpot, adding water from pot to cover and cook on High for 8 – 10 hours. They get very thick cooked this way.
Can also be baked covered in an oven @ 300 F. for 3-4 hours *after* simmering the beans in water for 45 min to 1 1/2 hours. Drain beans and place in large baking dish, add all other ingredients plus enough of the cooking liquid to barely cover the beans.
Fruit Juice Blocks
I made these with Oneida Orchard apple cider and the boys gobbled them up.
4 cups fruit juice
4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
Dissolve gelatin in one cup of cold fruit juice. Heat remaining fruit juice to boiling. Mix hot and cold fruit juice together until gelatin is completely dissolved. Pour mixture into large baking dish (9x13 inch). Refrigerate until set. Cut into squares.