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Fall's work

A lot of things can come to mind when you think of fall; the trees turning shades of fire red and yellow, crisp nights next to a campfire or cheering on the hometown football team on a Friday night. We think about those things too, but we’re also thinking about composting. At Grey Dog Maple Farm, we eat what we grow so it’s important that we have good soil to grow what we eat. One of the ways we get that soil is by composting our leaves.

With the changing of seasons comes one of falls most tedious tasks, cleaning up the leaves. Whether your weapon of choice is the lowly leaf rake or a state of the art leaf collection system, it’s a job that has to be done if you want your yard to be healthy come spring time. If you don’t clean up the leaves, your spring lawn risks being suffocated and that means you’ll be reseeding again. Grass seed is probably the last type of seed a homesteader should be spending their money on. If you’re buying seed, it should be something that you or your animals can eat or something you can grow to use or sell.

Most people have three options when it comes to dealing with their leaves. People in town are often able to get theirs to the road, where the local municipality will take them away. Others, usually outside of town, can get their leaves into a pile and burn them. These are both effective at getting the leaves off from your lawn, but they don’t make a good use of your leaves. To do that, you need to compost them.

There’s a lot more that goes into our compost piles than just leaves, but leaves make up a very large part of those piles. We mow close to two acres of lawn and that lawn is surrounded by Maple trees. That’s great for making Swamp Sugar. It’s also great for making compost. It’s not great for raking though. To save time, we mulch our leaves when mowing, and then pick them up with a lawn sweeper. This allows us to easily move them to one of our compost piles. Mulching them also helps the leaves break down faster and it will help keep your compost piles smaller and easier to maintain.

Because we’re blessed to have so many maple trees, that also happen to produce so many leaves, our compost piles would be out of control if we didn’t have another use for our mulched leaves. The other way we use them is as fill. There are a few low spots on our property that have a tendency to collect water, hence the name Swamp Sugar. We use some of the mulched leaves to fill and level the deepest spots. We’re not creating yards of dirt with our leaves every year, but we are creating yards of dirt after a number of years. Using that dirt as fill is a better use than not using it at all.

There are a lot of ways you can use your leaves. Homesteaders and farmers are resourceful by nature and necessity. We would love to see what you do with yours. Email us a picture to of your best use of leaves and we’ll add it to our Facebook page. And while you’re on our site, check out our store. Shipping within the U.S. is free. Thank you for reading our blog and for being a part of our farm.

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