Don’t Burn those Leaves!

What’s happening in the garden right now?

  1. Carrots are still in. We covered them during our rare ultra cold snap here in south Louisiana. Hopefully they made it through. We’ll harvest them in February.
  2. A little bit of lettuce planted. Lettuce can handle some cold weather. And lettuce is on a 15-30 day cycle, so it can be harvested as is or covered heavy should another cold snap come through.
  3. LEAVES! LEAVES! LEAVES! This month, most of my neighbors are raking and bagging leaves. I steal them from their driveways before the garbage truck arrives. I’ve probably collected close to 40 bags at this point. Along with another 20 or so of my own leaves. What are we doing with all these leaves?
    • Mulching and Composting. As time allows, I’ll run over these leaves with my mulching push mower. Each bag is reduced down to about 10 gallons when mulched. Piles of this good mulch will continue to break down and collect worms throughout the winter and spring. We’ll add about 5 gallons per week to our compost bins. This adds the needed carbon to the pile to improve the quality of compost when added to the plants.
    • Bags for new beds. Other bags are just left alone to continue to break down. As we have opportunities to build new raised beds, we’ll add a bag of leaves to the bottom, along with other organic matter that will activate the biological layers needed for raised bed greatness.
    • Deep Cover. All my beds that are not growing carrots and lettuce are deep covered in leaves. This keeps the biological life alive during the winter. Also, everytime it rains, the leaves feed the soil with nutrients that will bring life to plants in the spring. In the spring, when we’re ready to plant, we’ll peel this layer of leaves back. Mulch them down with the push mower and utilized them as mulch and compost throughout the year.

I hate to see or smell leaves burning. So much good they can do in the garden or flower beds. Don’t burn those leaves!

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Fall Beans Are Coming In

It has been a great year for beans. In the spring, we grew 82 pounds of beans in about 135 square feet of space. That’s plenty for our family, with a bunch to give away to friends. They are fun to grow. They look great. And they produce great yields in small spaces. We grow Bush and Pole beans, devoting 1 to 2 of our trellis beds to beans each season. If your goal is to take an item or two out of your grocery budget, green beans should be on the list. We haven’t bought beans in years. 82 pounds would be approximately $135 worth of canned beans from the grocery store. They are easily saved in the freezer or can be canned for long-term storage. Beans are a great option for any Back Yard Garden.

Our bean beds are fertilized mainly with compost produced right from our 4/10’s of an acre. We use Sustane 4-6-4 for a side dress every 2-3 weeks. I actually put this stuff on everything around our yard. It’s a great price and adds growth potential to every plant. One bag usually lasts 6 months.