Friday, December 4, 2009

Leaves, persimmons, and traveling

Our 'natural gardening' motto is that you can never have too many leaves! (Thanks, Sheila, for the post inspiration.)

In spite of having created nice woodland areas in our garden that are almost self-sufficient in their re-mulching capacity, additional leaves are always valuable for soil enrichment. In temperate areas, organic matter breaks down rapidly, so constant replenishment (following nature's lead) is important.

It's vital in woodland, shrub, and perennial borders, but absolutely essential in heavily-worked vegetable garden beds, where additional inputs of compost and organic nutrients may be needed to add minerals lost in harvesting.

I totally subscribe to the idea (as a plant ecologist and wildlife gardener) that mimicking nature, increasing biodiversity, and trying to create ecological balance in the garden is a good thing.

Personally, I don't worry about diseases that 'might' be harbored by leaf mulch in shrub and woodland areas (let the fungi and micro-organisms duke it out) -- leaves falling in such areas are natural and part of regular ecological processes.

Perennial borders and vegetable garden beds are much more tame, and in need of a gardener's care. But I'm certainly not worried about diseases in those beds either, if leaves are gathered (not the tough, slow to compost, ones) and used appropriately as mulch.

One of our signals that it's time to leave for traveling at winter break is Japanese persimmons.

This is an old tree that was one of the first things I planted as a 'young' gardener well over 20 years ago. It survived transplantation (with few roots) from Georgia to South Carolina, struggled, but has continued to produce persimmons, some year more, some years less. We always enjoy them, either fresh (me) or as persimmon bread (my gardening companion).

The last few fruits will be cut and brought into the refrigerator tomorrow before we leave for winter break travels.

I'm taking an iPod Touch and a new small camera -- hardly great blogging equipment, as we're traveling light.

But I wish those of you that have happened on my posts and especially those of you that continue to read them, a very happy holiday season!

I'll look forward to reading your posts while traveling, but mine will probably be minimal until we return in early January.


  1. I use leaves in all my beds too. Some are mulched, some are left whole for the winter to protect self sown seeds and the existing soil. I began almost all my gardens with leaf mold from the local landfill. When they stopped giving it away earlier this year thanks to state regulators who are worried there MIGHT be something in the leaves, I started collecting my own. A neighbor has a large pile, years old, where all the leaves go each fall. When I need mulch, I usually look there first sometimes adding a little wood mulch if I can find it cheap. This fall I have collected and spread leaves in all the new beds. I've shredded and layered leaves in the new vegetable beds. I like to think that I'm echoing what happens in nature. My gardens last year gave me the proof I needed that it works. I ate and viewed my successes.

    Enjoy your travels. Be safe. Take lots of photos. We'll be here when you get back. So will the leaves, in some form or another.

  2. Tom, thanks for the good wishes. I'm going to make a special point (as usual) of looking at vegetable gardens and markets -- markets and gardens in Asia are remarkable.

    And, I never can figure out why people wouldn't want to keep their leaves!


  3. Safe travels to you both. I love the idea of using the leaves for your mulching needs.

  4. Mike McGrath ("You Bet Your Garden")remarked at the October 17 Georgia Master Gardener conference that "It’s October and Nature is about to get our attention”, with leaves coming down from our deciduous trees: “They provide all the nutrients our gardens need for next year.”

    So true!

  5. Tom, thank you for enlightening me about using leaves for mulch. I used to go to my local nursery to buy mulch. But now I'll start using your method.

    Reader of your blog may also have an interest in my blog on gardening. Why not come and take a look at www.the

  6. Have a wonderful time on your break....A friend has just returned from a 3 year stint in Hong Kong and extensive travels in asia~~They had a wonderful time and loved Vietnam. See you next year. gail

  7. A belated Merry Christmas and good gardening in 2010. Enjoy your travels.


I enjoy hearing from fellow nature lovers and gardeners. Let me know your thoughts.

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