Cheryl Maddocks April 28, 2012
As the leaves fall this autumn, don't blow it.
Whatever happened to the gentle art of raking and sweeping autumn leaves? The blast of the blower has become the new blight of the 'burbs.
And, to make matters worse, the motto of some of the blower brigade seems to be ''blow it out of sight and everything's all right''.
I recently saw a man systematically blow his leaves out the gate and into the gutter. Perhaps he didn't realise they'd be washed away in the next downpour and block the drains.
Anyway, autumn leaves are too precious to throw away, so I don't even compost most of them. I add leaves directly to beds as mulch and throw some Dynamic Lifter or cow manure among them to help break them down.
You can add leaves to your compost heap or, if it is overflowing, build a simple wire enclosure and compost them in a heap of their own. Otherwise you can place them in large plastic garbage bags then add a little water and some Dynamic Lifter. Make a few holes in the bag, tie the tops and leave them out of sight for a several months. Your reward will be nutrient-rich humus.
Autumn is not just about dealing with fallen leaves. There are many other chores to be done. Compost heaps often become overloaded at this time of year as summer perennials and finished annuals are cut back. Turning the heap frequently with a garden fork and adding some manure will speed decomposition.
When my compost heap is full, I often compost perennial cuttings directly onto garden beds. I simply chop the clippings up with secateurs and place them onto the soil.
Autumn is also a good time to divide perennials. Do this by removing the plant from the ground and shaking away some of the soil to expose the root ball. Then pull the root ball apart with your hands, secateurs or a sharp knife.
Replant the divisions immediately and apply Seasol to the replanted plants to prevent transplant shock. Swap excess divisions with friends.
Don't be too quick to dehead the last flush of roses, especially those with a good show of hips. After all, large bunches of hips can look as gorgeous indoors as bunches of roses.
Weeds grow in every season. It's best to attack them as soon as they appear. You can spray weeds on pathways and between pavers with vinegar. Be careful not to let the spray drift onto plants you don't want to kill.
Dig up and compost any weeds that haven't gone to seed. Bulbous and perennial weeds can be placed in a plastic bag for several months and allowed to heat up and rot in the sun.
Place the rotted weeds onto your compost heap or add water and use the mixture as liquid compost.