The sound of a dumptruck pulling into our driveway last week was music to the ears of this wintertime gardener. Our city's leaf pickup program lets you sign up for leaf delivery, and this year we ordered five dump truck loads of leaves. This will be the spot we'll be expanding our garden to next summer, so getting it filled in with a nice huge pile of composting leaves is just about perfect.
I'm ferrying some of the leaves to cover our raised beds in the backyard, some will cover the existing garden and mulch the landscaping and fruit trees, and some will get moved to the chicken pen for them to dig through and peck over.
And best of all, since our city uses giant leaf vacuums (the size of street sweepers) instead of requiring people to bag up their leaves, it saves a literal ton of plastic bags from being used in the process.
The only difficult part of the whole process is that when people sweep their leaves off of their property and onto the side of the street to await the leaf vacuums, it can pose a pretty bad hazard to cyclists, so fall accidents on leaf slicks are unfortunately not uncommon.
I'm always extra-vigilant when cycling, especially if you have to divert around a leaf pile and out into traffic.
I have noticed leaf piles springing up in yards all over our neighborhood, so I know that we're not the only house that the leaf fairy has visited this week. It's great to see so many people taking advantage of such a wonderful and free resource. I have to admit that as city budgets get tight, I worry that programs such as this may be the first on the chopping block. It can seem pretty "non essential" to hand-deliver leaves to people all over town. But encouraging self-sufficient food supplies needs to be near the top of the list, and since organic fertilizers and bagged compost are expensive and leaves are free, this can encourage people to become gardeners who may not have the resources to create a spend-to-grow style of garden.
There have been lots of fundraisers lately to save our County extension service as well, which gives free gardening advice and helps with all kinds of questions on food growing, preparation, preserving, etc. I've called the Extension more than a few times with thorny questions and have always gotten great advice. Again, this kind of service seems like it will become more and more necessary, not less, as times get lean and fuel prices begin to rise again.