Edibles with Ease: When to Get Growing from Seeds or from Starts? Read more »
In my side yard which is mostly shade, I have tried a variety of perennials that thrive in a woodland setting. Read more »
Make your garden even more welcoming to birds and butterflies: turn it into a certified wildlife habitat. Read more »
The StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower combines patent-pending technology with superior ergonomics to deliver best-in-class cutting perf... Read more »
Keep your lawn and your shoes clean and free of clippings by adding our innovative, sturdy Grass Catcher to your StaySharp™ Ree... Read more »
The Salsa Rain Barrel System makes it easy to collect up to 58 gallons of water for your garden and lawn. Our rain barrel is ma... Read more »
Make the most of National Craft Month by preparing some craft kits for your children - let them explore color, texture and dif... Read more »
This is the second how-to in a series focused on getting the most out of your basic paper punches. Read more »
Spring brings in the most wonderful colors and here is a fun way to add a touch of color to your gifts! Read more »
Our ProCision™ Rotary Bypass Trimmer features a unique dual-rail system that stabilizes the rotary blade, eliminating wiggle fo... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of crafting and mixed media tasks, our Amplify® Mixed Media Shears sense blade separation and force th... Read more »
Available online and at your local retailer May 2014 Add distinctive style to craft projects of all kinds with... Read more »
My idea is to show everyone that they can make something cute and fashionable without spending a lot of money. Read more »
Embellishing a plain shirt using a reverse appliqué technique is easy - and your kids will love their personalized outfit! Read more »
This year, it seems like spring is way overdue at our house. Read more »
Perfect for tight, precise cuts, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force the blades back togethe... Read more »
Perfect for a wide range of sewing and quilting tasks, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabric Shears sense blade separation and force t... Read more »
Perfect for users with larger hands or anyone who needs to make long cuts through multiple layers, our Amplify® RazorEdge™ Fabr... Read more »
I always look forward to school being out for the summer (more so than my children, probably!) and the change of pace means we... Read more »
This fun project is a great way to send a little love note to your child. These lunchbox notes can be slipped into a backpack... Read more »
Here is a fun craft for St. Patrick’s Day that is not only adorable, it makes kids stop and think about how lucky they are. Read more »
Children love our Blunt-tip Kids Scissors for the handle that’s shiny, bright and smooth, not “sticky” or “bumpy.” Teachers and... Read more »
Our Big Kids Scissors take the basic design of our teacher-recommended Kids Scissors and enlarge them for kids that are a littl... Read more »
Our Student Scissors are larger than our Kids Scissors but smaller than adult scissors, perfect for those older children who ar... Read more »
Introduced to the world as a quality fabric scissors, the Original Orange-Handled Scissors redefined the standard for cutting p... Read more »
The first time you try our PowerGear® Super Pruner/Lopper, you’ll be amazed — but it’s not magic, it’s gears. Our patented gear... Read more »
Our Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter with a 45 mm blade makes cutting a wide variety of quilting materials comfortable and easy. A cu... Read more »
Leaves, those once beautiful, but now brown, tree appendages start to fall just about the time we’re ready to plant cabbages, pansies and bulbs. Oaks, which make up the majority of the native, deciduous trees in central Oklahoma, have the toughest, most fibrous leaves I know of, but if you rake and shred them, they can become a gardener’s best friend.
In my fair state, Interstate 35 is the demarcation line between the short grass prairie and the beginning of the deciduous forest. I live east of that line, in an area called the Cross Timbers known primarily for blackjack oak and post oak, but also, cottonwoods, Mexican plum, elms, black hickory and other woody vegetation. By mid-November, my lawn and front flower beds are covered with leaves. However, blackjacks (Quercus marilandica) retain their leaves into winter so a second round of raking occurs in late winter or early spring.
If leaves aren’t removed, they smother shade grass like fescue or perennial rye and smaller herbaceous plants. However, if leaves are shredded, they make splendid winter mulch, great compost and an even better outdoor, seed starting medium. In a state like mine, your soil hungers for good compost. If you have clay, over time compost will loosen it. If you have sandy soil, compost will improve its ability to hold moisture and nutrients. After six months of sitting, shredded leaves will crumble in your hand, becoming pure, black gold which requires no screening.
Why do leaves work? In forests, they fall to the ground and decay bringing nutrients and beneficial fungi to the understory, where ferns and other shade loving plants grow. Can’t you just feel that springy forest soil under your feet? By shredding your leaves, you’re simply helping nature do her thing more quickly.
I use my two trusty rakes and the roomy thirty gallon HardShell® Kangaroo® Gardening Container. I like the larger leaf rake for the lawn and the more, narrow shrub rake for the beds as it can maneuver around established plants. Both are made of aluminum which is one of my favorite materials for garden tools. It’s light weight, and if I accidentally leave a tool outdoors, it doesn’t warp or rust.
After raking, I take the container of leaves and dump them into a large, heavy duty plastic trashcan. I put on safety glasses and use my string trimmer to shred them. Then, I either put the leaves back on the garden beds as mulch or into large piles. These piles break down and are used throughout next year’s garden season. If I incorporate leaf mold with the soil in a planting hole, plants seem to settle in sooner and thrive. Further, a layer of it on top of seeds in the spring encourages germination. If you don’t want to use the leaf trimmer idea, you can mow over shallow leaf piles and collect them in the bag attachment.
So, when you rake your leaves this fall, don’t put them in trash bags. Instead, keep them out of the landfill and use them for their original purpose to improve the soil in your garden. If you do, just consider the bounty from your garden a pat on the back from Mother Nature herself.