Raking up the autumn leaves

autumn leaves

autumn leaves

The subzero temperatures last month and early this month had finally caused my oak trees to shed their leaves.

The sycamore tree had shed its leaves in the autumn. Every few days I would rake up the leaves. This morning it was out in the garden to rake up the oak leaves, and was it hard work.

Most people rake up their leaves when dry. I rake them when they are wet. Much harder work but there is a good reason for this contrary behaviour.

Wet leaves stay put, dry leaves blow around. Wet leaves rot down.

I put the wet leaves on borders, on the beds, to rot down. The worms pull the leaves down into the soil. What is left I dig into the ground in the spring.

The one place not to put the wet leaves is on the compost heap as they impede the rotting down of the compost heap. If you need to, pile them up in a corner of the garden where they will rot down, leaving behind a crumbly leaf mulch to spread on the ground.

Nor do you burn the damp leaves on a smoky bonfire creating a nuisance for the neighbourhood.

My next task will be to dig the garden, though sometimes I simply weed and fork then rake. I used to dig the garden in the autumn. This is fine if you have clay soil, as the frosts help to break down the large clods. Mine is light sandy soil, best dug in the spring or not at all.

Broad beans will be sowed in February and some early peas. This gives a late spring or early summer crop.

First Sunday in February, this year 6 February 2011, I hope to go down to Seedy Sunday Brighton, now in its tenth year. I used to be a regular, but when it moved from the Old Hove Market it was never as good and was not worth visiting. I have not been the last couple of years, therefore if a pleasant weekend and if the trains are runing and no rail works, it is as good an excuse as any for a day trip to Brighton.

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