I took two days off from work to enjoy the nice weather, replenish my Vitamin D and to get started on preparing my garden beds for the spring. I spent yesterday raking leaves and trimming the plants & shrubs that benefit by being cut back before new growth appears. Leaves are very beneficial for the soil and I will leave them on empty beds as the best mulch that there is. Eventually the leaves will form a thick mat and decompose into the soil. We also have a three bin composting area where we put leaves that are shredded up by our mulching mower. It is also good to let some leaves stay in your planted beds as they are used by insects to lay their eggs and shelter other wildlife. Also, shredded leaves make a great mulch!
What does a gardener do with all of the branches and extra yard debris? Many local townships will provide you with information on where to take yard waste, some pick it up. For example, Colebrookdale Township has a contract with Hopewell Excavating where residents can drop off branches, wood chips, small stumps, grass clippings and other typical yard waste. I asked the owner of Hopewell Excavating if anyone (besides Colebrookdale residents) can drop off yard wasted and he said “yes” as long as they are not contractors. I ask that you leave a donation in Hopewell Excavating’s donation box as this is such a valuable service!
I am an advocate of composting if possible and NOT dumping yard waste around streams. Recycle your Christmas trees at the Arboretum and find somewhere that will accept your yard waste. You may find that you have access to a drop-off center such as Hopewell Excavating. (Hopewell Excavating: 172 Fancy Hill Road, off of Rte. 562).
An article by fine Gardening about the benefit of using leaves in your garden: http://www.finegardening.com/improve-your-soil-raking-less
An article by Virginia A. Smith, Inquirer Staff Writer about the benefits of waiting until spring to do a garden clean-up. http://articles.philly.com/2014-11-14/news/56394786_1_insects-your-garden-timber-press
Paula Ziegler is a local resident who has a concern for the fate of bees, butterflies, and all wildlife which inspire her to find solutions to creating wildlife habitat gardens that fit into the look of the neighborhood. Her hope is that you enjoy her blogs and perhaps start a wildlife garden of your own! Learn more about Paula at https://www.facebook.com/paulayourgardenkeeper