The most efficient way to pick up fallen leaves is using a power mower and grass catcher. Those mowers exert a vacuum effect, so will pick up grass and leaves, shredding them.
Bag the leaves-grass mixture for use as mulch in ornamental beds after the ground freezes or pour the mix onto your compost pile or spread the mix thickly on bare soil in the vegetable garden. Mother Nature is the gardener in the mountains and on the range, where she leaves no soil uncovered in winter (except for the sand hills).
Shredded leaves catch and deflect raindrops so they dont pound soil into a compressed mass. As this organic matter decays over winter, its nutrients will be carried to plants root zones by earth pores, earth worms, and other macro- and microscopic creatures. Used as mulch in flower beds, it will protect roots from being heaved out of the ground during freeze-thaw swings in weather.
You should rake leaves out of flower beds and from under shrubs, then run the lawnmower over them to shred them before you put them back.
Why cant you just let leaves lie? Many kinds of leaves overlap one another, matting so they prevent air and moisture from reaching plant roots. Matted leaves can kill lawns and broadleaf plants, but shredding allows penetration by air and moisture.
Be cautious, too, about removing needles from beneath needled evergreens.
Their roots are less tolerant of cold temperatures than the above-ground tree or shrub is.
If you have well-formed columnar trees such as Thujas or Arborvitae, snow can distort one branch, ruining the appearance of your tree or shrub.
Some folks spiral heavy twine around such trees to prevent heavy snow from bending or breaking branches.
As we approach Thanksgiving, are you planning your Thanksgiving feast to include something youve grown? That makes the meal more special. Ive given away nearly all of my green tomatoes, and the rest are ripening quickly, so I doubt Ill have home-grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving.
I could refrigerate and keep them longer, but refrigeration is one of the reasons supermarket tomatoes have such bland flavor. Other reasons are that growers start with a poor variety, pick them green and hard, ship them, and gas them with ethylene to ripen them, and then refrigerate them. Whats left is red and bland, but moist.
We will have home-grown sweet potatoes, parsnips, sweet meat squash, celery and perhaps Tuscan kale soup from the garden. One year I only had caraway seed for that meal from the garden because I didnt grow sweet potatoes or squash. I dont remember what I used caraway to spice, but the important part was that it was from my garden.
Incidentally, I was swamped with an indoor project, and didnt thin carrots, beets or parsnips. Nevertheless, we harvested large long carrots and parsnips this fall from those crowded rows. We did leave half of the row of parsnips in the ground, to be dug later. Beets, too, were large, and not diminished by the lack of thinning.
Margaret Lauterbach: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Gardening, The Idaho Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707