Okay, I know most people rake up their leaves in the fall…but fall was a busy time. And besides, for those of you that remember, the leaves coordinated so well with my hens, I decided to leave them.
All winter long, through the trillions of gallons of rain that the Pacific Northwest has dropped in the backyard, my leaves have been working hard to decompose. And I’ve been content to just let them.
That is, until I decided that I needed to add more garden space by taking over a 25 x 22 foot space of the backyard. Because I’m placing that garden on top of an unused asphalt RV parking space, I need all the dirt and compost I can get. A LOT of it. Suddenly, all those leaves I never got around to putting in the compost bins are like piles of gold dust in the backyard.
One day last week, in a rare change of weather, it didn’t rain here. I coaxed, begged, and bribed nieces and nephews into gathering the rakes and heading outside to begin collecting those beautiful cast-offs of nature. Out came four kids, three rakes and a wheelbarrow. And, amazingly, they set right off to work. And worked hard. For about 20 minutes. Seeing my crew slack, I devised a plan. The teams would be 9-year-old Jake (the ‘wheelbarrow guy’) with me, against the three reminding kids (plus a neighbor kid that had been crazy enough to come over and help). And so the race began. A little competition goes a long ways sometimes!
In the end, we only got a section of the yard completed, but we have a start on the garden in the corner of the backyard. I’m going to do some sort of lasagna gardening technique (with the help of my compost bins, my un-raked fall leaves, piles and piles of composted poo from the chickens, and anything else I can find to throw on top of it all). Then I’m going to surround the new space with straw bale garden border of sorts with netting sides on top of it all (to help keep the dog from digging under and the chickens from flying over). The netting will also serve as plant support for climbers and other plants that need to be tied up. At least that’s the grand plan right now.
In the meantime, though, my chickens seem to think we’ve gathered a picnic for them. They’re very happy.