The GREEN of Red, Orange, Yellow and Gold Leaves

Ayla & Ray Shanks. Photo Courtesy of J Shanks.

Ayla & Ray Shanks. Photo courtesy J Shanks

This post is part of an ongoing GREEN series on GirlGuidesCANblog. The series highlights a variety of environmental issues and activities that affect girl and adult Members in Guiding. Today, guest blogger Joyce Shanks shares some great activities around composting! Who knew there was such a thing as a leaf party?!

It’s cool and crunchy out there, and all those dead dry leaves litter the ground awaiting their destiny.

Will happy kids pile them up to jump in?
Will the leaves perhaps end up in a landfill? Or a forest?
Will they rot and kill the grass on your lawn where they lay?
Or will they blow merrily across the garden fence while you stand grinning from ear to ear because your neighbour will have to deal with them?

It doesn’t have to be the end for these leaves; they can go back to the earth and give new life and nourishment. Think of them as liquid lawn gold, these leaves are packed to the brim with nutrients, BUT only if they are dealt with properly.

How do we process the former green glory that kept us and the squirrels sheltered from the scorching sun in the summer?   We’re also going to tell you how this lawn litter can redeem itself for the giant mess that it made.  To help remember what can be done with the leaf heap, try to remember this little poem written by me.

Fall Leaves

You can rake ‘em, you can blow’ em,
You can mulch ‘em, you can mow ‘em,
You can mold ‘em and compost them.
Turn the brown, gold, red and yellow,
Into something again that is GREEN.

Rake ‘em – environmentally friendly, people-powered, good old-fashioned raking. Pile them up to either be paper bagged and carted off to a green waste facility (your municipality should have special collection days) or they can be stored for your own composting.

Blow ‘em – This is a rather noisy way to get your leaves to fall in line, not to mention the fact that it is an energy drain, if it needs to be plugged in. It can be a Zen experience to try to get every leaf from the lawn corralled into the pile, but the same can be achieved with a rake while burning some calories too!

Mulch ‘em – Turning your leaves into mulch is different from making them into compost and different from mowing them. The link will clearly explain the process, but in a nutshell mulch breaks down the leaves into smaller bits, and through the process of layering and through the winter months the leaves turn into something useable in the spring.

Mow ‘em – If you are using a manual mower this is a very GREEN option for at least some of your leaves. As long as the lawn is not totally covered and the leaves are dry, you can run them over with the mower and leave (pardon the pun) them in place throughout the winter. The initial breaking down of the whole leaves and the snow, will allow them to be nourishing for the lawn in the spring.

Mold ‘em – Leaf mold is one of the most nutrient rich substances that you can create from your leaves. On its own it is not much but when it is incorporated into your soil, it is worth its weight in gold, and gardeners can never have too much of it. This link to Making Leaf Mold includes a video as well for those of us who are visual.

Use them in your compost – incredibly, eco-friendly composting requires a tad more effort than chucking your leaves in a bin but it is worth every effort.  Dry leaves alone will take a long time to break down, but mixing them in with green materials, such as grass trimming and peelings from the kitchen will speed up the process. Simply make a lasagna out of your regular green materials and autumn leaves and let compost do its magic during the winter (aerate or turn the pile over when you think of it).  In the Spring you should have great compost! I personally put aside a lot of dry leaves in the fall and if I plan it correctly I’m set for most of the year.

Here are some great conservation activities Units can explore:

Have a leaf party! No fall is complete until we take a family photo in the leaf pile. A great early evening activity for your Unit would be to offer to rake the leaves in your community or Unit meeting – and have a little fun in the process.

  • What is your community or municipality doing about green waste?
  • Are there special pick-ups?
  • Where is the compost located?
  • What safeguards are in place to ensure that the compost is made from quality green waste?
  • Are they certain that the necessary composting temperatures are being reached so that any bacteria or fungus is being killed in the process?
  • What comes of the compost created in the municipality?
  • Are there any conservation programs that can be supported by the local units of Girl Guides?
  • Or are there any programs that the Girl Guides can initiate within the community to help share information on the need to compost?

No matter what you decide to do with your leaves, don’t forget to play in them at some time during the clean up!

Guest blogger Joyce Shanks

Guest blogger Joyce Shanks

By guest blogger Joyce Shanks. Read Joyce’s Green Camping blog post to learn about making the Guiding camping experience as GREEN as possible! Joyce is a certified holistic practitioner and President of eCause Canada Inc., whose mission is to provide simple, profitable, green fundraising for healthy profits and a healthy world. She can also be reached by email.

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1 Response to The GREEN of Red, Orange, Yellow and Gold Leaves

  1. Pingback: Girl Guides and Breast Cancer (Cross Post) | eCause Canada

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