With the snow long gone and temperatures warming up, we look ahead to our national holiday, Earth Day, on Tuesday, April 22nd. For almost half a century now every April 22nd has been about celebrating the Earth and trying to make our environment more healthy and sustainable. But, do we ever really think about the Earth part of it?
Traditionally April is the time where we go out into the landscape to plant annual flowers, sprinkle some fertilizer, spread some new colored mulch, take a deep breath and think ‘I did my part for the year’ with a certain sense of satisfaction. But have you ever wondered if your efforts are really helping to improve the Planet? How do your customary efforts affect the billions of organisms that live beneath your feet? What is the connection between our gardening efforts and the fungi, nematodes, bacteria, protozoa teeming in the soil itself? It is this cast of characters that our planet depends on to function on the most elemental level. It is the microbes that make food or nutrients available in the soil for plants to absorb and, without this food, plants wouldn’t survive; and without plants, we would have no oxygen to breath.
So all the more reason to get out there with that synthetic fertilizer that is available in big 50 lb. bags at any home improvement store and feed your plants, right? WRONG! Those synthetic fertilizers are actually doing far more harm than good to your soil and the billions of organisms that call it home. The synthetic fertilizers directly feed your plants and harm the soil. It causes a disruption in the soil ecosystem that upsets the balance of the organisms. Once the balance of soil organisms is off kilter, your plants get hooked on the synthetic fertilizers. The chemicals actually kill the organisms and your plants become more susceptible to disease, poor growth, and long term problems.
Thank goodness there is an Earth-friendly way to give your soil the nutrients it needs instead of sprinkling synthetic fertilizers. You will be amazed at how nature works because this magic additive is leaves. Leaf mold, or leaf mulch as it is sometimes called, is chocolaty brown, sweet-smelling, moisture-retentive mulch. It is nothing more than crumbly brown material with a pleasant, earthy scent made of partially decomposed leaves. It provides your planting beds with plenty of nutrients, helps retain moisture and is even said to boost the health of the soil so much that it can help prevent certain weeds and diseases much better than with standard bark mulch. And it doesn’t contain the questionable chemical dyes sprayed on all colored mulches.
You won’t find leaf mold in stores and it’s even hard to come by through retail nurseries or mulch suppliers. Fortunately, leaf mold can be made at your own house with some space for composting, a little bit of patience, and all of those leaves that you rake in the fall. If you don’t have the space to make your own, or want our help, we can bring some by so you have the healthiest natural landscape around!
I am so excited watching our first ever garden come back to life this spring.