Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fall's First Harvest

You might think that late fall is a quiet time on the urban farm, but we seem to always be busy. In fact, the past few weeks have been prime harvesting time. But what are we harvesting? Didn't we already say that there was no food growing on our homestead when we bought it? Well, here's a bit of a clue. This picture of the house shows one section totally harvested.

Yep, that's right. It's a tree with all of its leaves already fallen. And where are said leaves? Certainly not on the lawn...

That's because LEAVES are our first harvest in our new home! Now don't worry, things haven't gotten so dire yet that we plan to eat them. Just like you can't eat a lawn, you can't really eat fallen leaves either. But I suppose after several steps through the food chain, these leaves will provide us some nourishment, albeit indirectly.

You see, leaves are a vital component of great compost. We told you earlier about the compost bin we built, but we still haven't done much to fill it. Lots of different kinds of organic matter can be composted, and we'll get into more detail on how that all breaks down in a future post. But leaves are a really handy source of carbon-rich compostable matter, and with all these trees, we had a great source of them.

The best way to compost leaves is to shred them first, but having bought our home in October, we haven't actually bought a lawn mower yet (and weren't quite ready to decide on one anyway). So we found a different tool.

That's Greg using our Toro Ultra Leaf Blower/Vac. This thing really sucks. Literally. And it shreds and packs the leaves into the attached bag. It's been a near-daily task the past month to spend at least a  little time working on vacuuming the leaves off the lawn, and as you saw in the first few pictures, we're pretty much done with the front yard. The back is still a work in progress, but it's not just busywork when you think of it as a harvest. Check out our bounty!

With any luck, these leaves will last us well into next year as we add them bit by bit into the compost bin. And if we do that right, eventually we'll have fantastic broken down material to add to the soil in our garden boxes. So, from that perspective, I guess we actually will be eating these leaves!

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