How Much $$ are YOU Saving?

Composting, Leaf Mold, and Saving Seeds

Some believe that as December hits, gardening has been well done. Not me. I’m still getting ready for late Winter. I said Late Winter, that’s March. This years garden was very late because of moving. I didn’t get the plot plowed until late July and it was in a rocky, clay, first time tilled spot. But I had “debris” that the last tenant just blew aside. I found some gold, and ate for free for the most part. Next year, all free.

My compost pile is doing very nice. My roommate and I are continuing to contribute to its mass. We have a simple coffee can on the counter, and most everything we don’t use, is in there. It’s amazing how I see my compost as “The other garden” as it grows. And, It’s free. Also, as the Summer Garden dwindled, all that green litter, went into it, again, free. Towards the end of Summer, veggies were growing in it from seed, and Celery, Parsnip, Turnip end cuts were re-growing. That, lets me know it’s good stuff when it supports itself.

Compost (1)The pic doesn’t do it justice. From just a cleared out spot in the yard in July, you can now see it from the house an acre away. And it is all garbage to some, but gold to us. Funny that some folks who have been here just look at me and say, “You’re kidding right?” Nope, just a weekly trip out with that coffee can.




For a lot of people leaves are such a misunderstood item. I have always used mine, no matter where I’ve lived. I recently wrote an article for Farmers Almanac about Raking vs Mulching leaves. Just makes sense to re-use them, they are free too. When I’m done with what I need, I give the rest away. They are already mulched, and ready to be amended into a garden or use as mulch. So much nutrients in those free leaves. And, you can’t buy them at a box store. Think about how a tree in the woods is fed. No one goes out there and tosses Miracle Gro at them. A tree drops its leaves all around its base for the most part and the leaves naturally compost into its feeder roots. As I mulch mine when they first start falling into my lawn, I am adding a valuable amendment into my lawn.

Leaf MoldAs they start falling harder, I start bagging with my mower, and save for my beds, especially the veggie garden. In around mid February, I will add as a top dress to the garden, and turn in about mid March, when I will “Solarize” that bed. Solarizing is cool, I have an article around here somewhere.




Saving seeds has always been a must for me. I don’t like buying them, especially now because of the GMO debacle. Towards the end of the seasons, I collect one or two veggies off each plant and save those seeds, herbs, I let bloom a bit, and save them, Fall crops just need to bolt, and there are seeds. I have them in individual marked zip-loc bags, and I am saving also, all my dryer lint thru the year for starting those Tomatoes and Peppers in late February indoors. Search for the dryer lint article or hit this link when I was on TV about it.

So as I wait for the coming season, I am already ahead in the wallet department. All of my efforts, just simple doings, will save me money, and I will eat free. From the size of my compost, seed allotment, leaf mold, which also has free nutrients, I will be around $200 ahead with free stuff. And, I know what is in all the materials I use. No chemicals, growth hormones, mystery stuff. I know what I am eating all the time. So can you. Truly organic is what you control. Just because the bag is labeled as such, it’s really only 85% “organic”. Read the ingredients, there is mostly another 15% missing….

Composted Leaf Mold Starts in Your Own Yard

Composting Leaf Mold

So, what happens each Fall, when we start getting leaves? We always say, or mean to, re-use them in our landscape, compost, garden beds, and what happens? Time doesn’t run out, daylight just gets shorter. In a recent article I wrote for  Farmers Almanac about raking vs mulching, I had a very good hit with emails about “Leaf Mold”. Yes, Leaf Mold is a good thing, and even better if its a free thing. I have in the past, and will again, hear from folks who got a soil analysis, and always, there is a comment from the County, to add leaf mold. “Where do we buy it”? First thing I ask about is if they have deciduous trees, most say yes. I ask where the leaves are from last year, and I find the same answer, “at the dump”.

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In the article in FA, I suggested folks seek out the leaves getting blown to the curb to be picked up, and ask if they can have a bunch. But you should scatter them in your yard and mulch them and bag up with a mower. The pieces compost faster than the whole leaves, but your garden life will change. Just make sure you aren’t picking up diseased leaves, or Black Walnut. Oak, Maple, Hickory, Poplar, Beech, are a few that I haven’t seen a lot of fungus activity. Flowering Pear, and Dogwoods, are really taking a beating the last couple of years, so, pass on them.

Generally, insects aren’t a problem, since the layering of the leaves in the beds, will freeze, and then start “cooking” later, and will kill most insects in them. If you are composting, and have been saving grass, and other greens, leaf mold is a magic kick for the ratio.

So like I said in the previous articles, and lectures, I have used all I need from my own trees, and have a surplus of already mulched leaves. Come get them, bring your own bags. There are also an abundance of Pine Tags, rake your own, I’m done. Don’t let these valuable resources hit the landfill. Just send me an email if you are in the Richmond area and are “Tree Challenged” and want some.

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Leaf litter ready to go!!

See and sign up for my newsletters. If you want the leaf litter and Pine Tags, email me at

My links for the Farmers Almanac and other media are below.

There are other articles in my blog that will help you successfully have a great gardening experience.

The Farmers Almanac

My first article in the FA this month!! Kinda nice because the lecture requests are coming faster this year, and more… Already October thru March bookings and I’ve had a few who didn’t realize, now they do!

November 2013

November, Lot’s Going on Outside the

So we
made it thru Halloween, I hope. Now there are other “things” coming at us.
Are you even starting to plan yet? I used to use this day for
planning menus, lists, for keeping lists, of lists. But things change
So as the days get shorter, and, shorter, let me help
with some old “lists”.
First, breathe,
if I just put you into some sort of shock, reminding you, what I’m here for.
Something you may want to try and catch, The Solar Eclipse on Sunday morning at
dead sunrise, won’t last long, and it is a hybrid eclipse. It will be a total,
but we here on the East Coast, will get the bulk, but not all. The sky colors
should be booming, so get that camera ready, and remember, don’t look directly
at it.

So you see
the map, so, try. Something to be seen. Check your sunrise times the night
before, set your clocks for the time change, remember,’Spring forward, Fall
back” and remember to take that extra hour off. Here in Richmond, it will be
over by 7 or so, and Sunrise is around 6:30, AFTER the time change. Find a spot
you can have a clear view at the lowest horizon you can.
Amaryllis bulbs are
hitting the shelves now, want some color that keeps going? it’s time to force
them now. If you haven’t got your Spring bulbs planted yet, what ya waitin’
for… It’s November!!!
Thanksgiving is really coming now. Get the beds,
lawn, and outdoor living areas dolled up, sometimes it’s great, to get everyone
outside for a few, if you are the cook….. I see rain and chilly for Richmond
area, just my long range lie..
You Black Friday folks, God bless ya. Those
websites will be showing up very soon. Don’t forget your garden buddies, lots
out there on specials for Christmas gifts for them too, oh! and you….
we will be in December, ugh!!
OK, back to November. If you have had a few
good frosts, and a freeze maybe, start looking around at the dormant,
nonproducing, nonwinter interest plants. Prune them back, and mulch them. If you
haven’t seen that yet, rock on, get as much out of them as possible. I like to
keep some inside as a sort of “dried” arrangement.
Enjoying the colors of
Fall as you plan your landscaping and garden beds. These make great indoor decor
as well in cuttings.
First the dogwoods (Cornus spp.) and sumacs (Rhus spp.)
turn their shades of burgundy, then all the other colors begin to explode. The
yellows, oranges, and reds of sugar maples (Acer saccharum) reign supreme, but
don’t overlook the brilliant gold of gingko (Gingko biloba) or the reds of black
tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum), or scarlet oak
(Quercus coccinea). Be sure to enjoy the shrubs that offer fall color, including
witch hazels (Hammamelis), summersweet (Clethra ), blueberries (Vaccinium),
fothergilla (Fothergilla), and oak leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea
Mid to lower South lawns, almost time for that last feeding.
And applying a non fertilized pre-emergent. New mulch? Same thing, on top of the
new mulch.
When most people think about roses, they usually jump straight to
the flowers. But did you know that these popular bloomers also produce fruit?
While some roses bear hips that are too small to be worthwhile, others take over
where the flowers leave off, adding wonderful black, orange and red hues to the
fall landscape. But don’t stop there! Add fall color with rose hips, then learn
how to harvest this remarkable treat so you can enjoy its many health benefits,
whether it be in vitamin C-rich teas, muffins or this sweet rose hip jam recipe.
Enjoying rose hips is a great way to boost your health – and your autumn garden
– throughout the cool season. I found a lot of recipies just by Googling, Rose
Hip Tea”, and it was on.
I received a few good Fall recipies from that one
Newsletter, and I have been trying some Kale, Carrot, Sweet Potato, recipies
with all the fixings as well. I can’t even pick the one I like best. Just that
time of year.
You may get this newsletter twice in two formats, and I
apoligize, I have to find who only wants certain formats. Godaddy is not telling
me what I need to be computer brilliant at.
Thanks for your support with
having friends, etc sign up and the referrals. The emails from you all are fun,
and I will try to get the Google+ community chat thing gong, sounds like fun. I
have 5 groups to see in the next 2 months, and then Spring willl be in
Have a safe and warm Holiday if I don’t get back to you before. It IS

OK. Its Time Now

   Now that we have lost better than 2 1/2 hrs of daylight, Its time to start thinking in reverse of Spring. How is tour lawn? Did it do OK in the heat and lack of rain this summer? Should you re-seed? How did your veggies do? What shape are your other landscape plants in? Should I just stay in the house……

    Yeah, time to do some serious re-thinking of your dirt. First let me say this. The Sky is not falling. We have been slammed back and forth by the media about Global blah blah blah, and a lot of folks are confused, if not disheartened by lack of success. Ma Nature is just checking to see if we are paying attention.

Your Lawn. Go ahead, core aerate, kill off, re-seed, feed, and garden your soil this Fall.

Your Veggie Garden. Go ahead, pull out anything that looks dwindling, and plant a Fall crop of Spinach, Lettuce, Collards, brocoli, maybe even some Fall Squash. Get food on the table, and spend time till Winter enjoying them.

Your landscape. Yeah, there are dead looking leaves everywhere, but remember, that tree, or shrub, has taken upon itself to selectively delete those certain amount of leaves to stop the feeding process to its roots. Remember HS Biology? No? Google plant requirement nutrients… It will all come back to you.

Who sees great dieback on Evergreens? Prune selectively, and feed with something like Ironite or an NPK of about 16-4-8, then mulch. This has been a crazy year for all, and I really believe we will see the same Winter this year, historically, even the heat again next year, but wetter, providing you with more fungus than you want, so make sure to solarize your veggie gardens in March.

 Its time to re-plant those shrubs now, and re-seed. The angle of the Sun is way down, so the 85 plus days make you hot, but the soil is actually cooled off. We will see that trend happen until Forsythia reblooms in the Spring. Yeah, it’s a long time coming, but at least you will have the time to start planning for your mistakes between now and then. Keeping that journal and pics we talked about last year? Now is the time to find them again..

Don’t give up.