Will work for mulch

Back in the day when I was younger and fresher I used to do yard cleanups and odd jobs on the side for a little extra spending money.  It doesn’t make much sense, but I still hold on to a job or two,  ask myself why, and then drag myself out on a damp morning for a day of hard labor.  Long hours working in someone else’s garden gives you plenty of time to think, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that I do it for the mulch.  I don’t get nearly enough chopped leaves around here and my thin topsoil greedily eats up every leaf I dump on or turn into it.

garden put to bed for the winter

Colchicum and vegetable beds tucked in nicely under a layer of whatever the mower sucked up off the lawn. Pity the poor seed grown chrysanthemum which spent all summer waiting to be transplanted out of its tiny pot. Amazing it lived, let alone bloomed.

I do the cleanup and take home a couple bags of weeds for compost and chopped leaves for mulch.  It’s not easy coming to terms with the idea I’m a mulch whore but when I’m home and showered and looking at my haul I feel a little less cheap.

chopped leaves lawnmower

A bonanza of chopped leaves for the garden. If I had more I’d start a leaf mould pile, instead I use them all up as garden mulch.

I snuck into my brother in law’s yard last weekend and mowed up his back yard.  It was only fair since most of his leaves are off the trees which suck the life out of the North side of my yard.  I don’t think he even noticed, and the daffodil beds thank him.  My fingers are also crossed for the neighbor across the street and the chance that he dumps his mower bags out in the woods rather than into unmarked trash bags.  That would be quite the haul 🙂

dahlia tanjoh

The last of the dahlias still dodging winter. The plants look more than ready to give up but the blooms are still coming.

We have a freeze coming this weekend which should finish off the last of the tender plants.  Normally October 10th is what I think of as our first frost date, so sneaking through into the first of November is a treat, even though most of the annuals seem more than ready to give up.

red leaved castor bean seedheads

The formerly lush red leaved castor bean is all ripening seedheads now. Take a little care when handling these, they’re the source of the poison ricin.

I’m ready to do the final cleanup.  After a freeze the dahlias and cannas will be dug and the roots thrown into the garage.  Then with the exception of late bulb sales I’ll be taking a bit of a rest for the holidays.  Time for bird feeding and snow watching 🙂

late season self sown chrysanthemum

One of my last bloomers of the season, this selfsown chrysanthemum looks nice paired with the red of yet another dogwood seedling and the yellow of fall hosta leaves.

So I think this season is just about a wrap!  Bulb planting counts as work for next season -which makes cutting back and removing the frozen annuals the last chore of the 2014 season.  Most people look forward to a winter rest, but not me.  I’m already antsy for late winter’s cyclamen and snowdrops!!

14 comments on “Will work for mulch

  1. Christina says:

    The fallen leaves are one of the good things about my walnuts (I’m not really changing my mind). Leaves make the best compost but since reading US blogs I’ve also been just putting them onto the beds, especially the back border which is very lacking in soil. I hope the weekend isn’t too cold, keep warm.

    • bittster says:

      It’s a little chilly and gray, but still not completely miserable!
      I would love to have enough leaves for compost and mulch, but for now this is faster and easier and better for the beds. If I turned it into compost first the beds would go without and I’d only dole it out by the shovelful to a few favorite plants here and there. This way we have equal leaves for all…. almost a communistic approach to gardening 🙂

  2. Chloris says:

    Well you are a real gardener. We all of us would go a long way for some lovely leaves. I keep them in black bin bags with holes in the bottom. I sprinkle them with a little water if they are too dry and store them. After a year I have a bag of crumbly leaf mould good enough to eat. Well not really, eating it would be an awful waste. But it is lovely stuff.

    • bittster says:

      My idleness has often led to the same compost-bag approach. Discovering forgotten bagfuls of fluffy leaf mould in mid June really makes you question the benefits of keeping on top of everything in the fall. Maybe I’ll take your lead this fall and do it intentionally!

  3. Wow, it never occurred to me I could get free labor in exchange for my leaves! : ) I need a couple of 20 feet long, six inch deep trenches for daffodil bulbs dug up at the top of my (rocky) back lawn. You can take away a truck-load of leaves! (I kid, of course–the trenches need to be only 18 feet long!) Happy Halloween!

    • bittster says:

      Hmmmm. How many leaves would a truckload be? 😉
      I’ve almost given up on digging in rocky soil. I tend to scrape back the grass and weeds, set down the bulbs, and then find something easier to dig such as compost, and just spread that on top to cover. Compost cures everything in my opinion, even correct planting depths!

  4. Proud to be a mulch whore too. Busily making huge amounts of leaf mould and please, do come and take some of my garden compost – I have far too much. D

    • bittster says:

      That’s just cruel. You must know I could never get a bag or two of compost through customs.
      I’ve seen pictures of your compost bins. I think you’re more of a “Pretty Woman” kind of mulch whore. I’m lucky to get my own streetcorner.

  5. Cathy says:

    Come on over and help yourself to some leaves Frank! My Man of Many Talents chopped some up with the mower for me and put them in a huge heap… I have spread out all I need for now and there’s loads left. And the leaves are still falling! 😉

    • bittster says:

      LOL, I’m jealous!
      I’ve found that ignoring a problem goes a long way when it comes to leaves. A few strong December winds and all of a sudden you’re leaf free…. you just have to put up with dirty looks from the neighbors all winter 🙂

  6. I’ve worked for mulch, too. I used to stuff my truck with bags of leaves from as many yards as possible. Now I get enough of my own and I buy bags of Leaf Gro compost. Much easier than turning tricks with a rake. 😉

  7. I use the mulched leaves too. Some make the garden and others the mulch bins for next spring. I enjoy winter too, but more for the relaxation. Just planted lots of tulips, lilies and allium bulbs today and with only ten lilies to go, I pooped out. Always tomorrow I guess.

    • bittster says:

      It must be nice to have the bulk of your bulbs planted! I always have a weakness for the late season clearance sales so even with most things in the ground I may still run into trouble!
      Not the best habit when your out in a snow squall trying to warm up frozen fingers…. Better to do it now 🙂

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