November 10, 2006

"Leaf Me Alone" Or "Falling For You"

A beautiful Indian Summer day here in Northern Virginia. (Am I allowed to use that term anymore, I wonder...)

We have four large trees lining the front of our yard, two oaks and two silver maples, each one a solid forty feet tall. Among them, they throw an awful lot of leaves. Over time, I've developed the habit of scooping them all up, mulching them down and spreading them about in the garden. I've spent the last couple hours mulching up the first batch. (Interestingly, these trees never drop their leaves all at once. The line of the street runs northwest to southeast and the trees always drop in overlapping succession from one end of the line to the other. This can sometimes take several weeks.)

Tomorrow I'm going to have to get the garden itself ready by cutting down what's left of the perennials, at least the ones that have packed it in for the year. The foxgloves are still nice and green and this year's columbine seedlings are going strong, but most of the place is just bare and dingy stalks now.

Here's a question I can't quite decide: the garden also needs weeding pretty badly. One side of my brain says I'd better do this before spreading the leaf-mulch. The other side says just to bag it - whatever the mulch doesn't smother I can just yank out or spray when it pops through. I'm inclined to go with the latter but somehow can's shake the conviction that it's a little too easy, a little too convenient and therefore somehow morally wrong. Sometimes coming from Scotch Presbyterian forebearers can be a pain in the neck.

Posted by Robert at November 10, 2006 03:46 PM | TrackBack

No, you can not use the term "indian summer" -
The warm weather you are enjoying is caused by global warming.
So the correct term is: "Global warming summer"

Plus, you get more free time on the weekends, church has been cancelled by congress.

Posted by: Marvin at November 10, 2006 04:09 PM

It took me several moments of wondering what was wrong with "Northern Virginia" and figured it had to do with the dems being in power.

I need a nap.

As to the weeding, I say bury 'em and deal with 'em later. But then, my garden is very weedy year-round, so you might not want to listen to me.

Posted by: beth at November 10, 2006 04:24 PM

Your sense that being easy will cause great remorse in the future is correct, Robbo. Those weeds are certainly full of seeds. You'll be 'til next August cursing yourself for keeping them in the garden. Stiff upper lip, man! Banish the weeds.

Posted by: Chai at November 10, 2006 05:07 PM

Don't you have young 'uns around the house to do that sort of work?

Posted by: rbj at November 10, 2006 05:13 PM

Robert - You have been absolutely adverse to listening to my gardening advice FOR YEARS NOW. So, I think I will really rock you when I say, leave the weeds alone in your beds and try to smother them with leaf mulch (that is not to say that you shouldn't pull out the occasional huge weed this time of year). But, buy a product called Preen next spring and use it liberally in your flower beds.
I say this because you seem to like chemicals. How about a bit of negotiation? You stop using chemicals on your lawn and admit that a momo-species lawn defies the laws of God, instead you try to control the weeds in your beds with Preen...? Hey, is that a trade off? The creatures would be so much happier with it... I counted a few years ago and realized that I had over 9 different plants growing on my 3/4 acres or "grass". Hello... the stuff is still green and, it allows all kinds of birds and butterflies to live in my yard.
You know Robert, I have been meaning to say this to you for quite some time... When you put chemicals on your grass you place all the Ettes in danger... They roll around in it, they drag it into the house on their feet... Did you know that lawn chemicals do not break down in your carpet for 20 years because it isn't exposed to enough UV??? So, your carpets become toxic...
Come back from the dark side and do the right thing! IPM, Integrated Pest Management. Join the 21st century and stop worrying what your neighbors think! You will be doing your family and your water table a big favor.

Posted by: Babs at November 11, 2006 01:04 AM

Prior to spreading the leaf mulch, broadcast a failrly heavy layer of lime and a light layer of 5-10-5. This will help neutralize the acidic leaf mulch and allow it to absorb the fertilizer over the winter, rather than the nutrients in the soil during its decomposing process... Then, in early spring lay down the preen according to package directions.

Posted by: Babs at November 11, 2006 01:11 AM

"Leaf Me Alone" or "Falling For You"?

I had no idea you were such a connoisseur of Rocky & Bulwinkle.

Posted by: Captain Ned at November 11, 2006 02:15 AM

Babs - Chillax! If you compare the number of times I've actually gone out and treated the lawn in any way versus the number of times I've talked about it, well, you're talking a fraction comparable to lottery-winning odds.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at November 11, 2006 07:15 AM

Preen is the birth control pill of the flowerbed. If you use it, nothing will germinate in your beds for a few seasons, including future generations of Foxglove and Columbine. The fall spray of weeds is one of the most effective time to end the lives of the little buggers. Just spray the larger ones and cover them with the mulch. The weed killer will slowly exhaust them over the winter so that by Spring they should be history.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at November 11, 2006 08:54 AM