Friday 29 September 2006

Good Leaf Bad Leaf

Now that the yearly crop of leaves has fallen it may be of interest what to do with them next. In this age of recycling it is all the rage to compost your leaves to recycle the nutrients. Well this is a great idea in principle depending on the trees on your property you may want to reconsider this approach. Back in the good old days people used to burn all there leaves and spread the ashes on there garden. While this practice isn’t the best from an air quality standpoint it does eliminate over wintering disease and insect problems on the leaves that may survive composting or just piling up in the woods. While it’s no longer recommend to burn your leaves, selected recycling and compost may be your best solution.

Trees that have old insect infested fruit, like apples, should have this disposed off site or buried to prevent the insect pests from over wintering in the fallen fruit. Similarly leaves from trees that frequently have outbreaks of fungi like lilacs, dog woods and ash trees should be gathered and thoroughly composted for more than one year away from the affected trees. Many trees have gall or other mites that disfigure the foliage with cocks combs or nipple like lumps. These should be moved off site or disposed of to prevent re-infection. Leaf shredders are an excellent way to speed up the process of composting, mixing leaves with other vegetable waste from the house and turning it frequently will promote proper composting.

Now that leaves have fallen and trees are dormant there are things you can do to help them get through severe winter weather. Even though the tops of your trees look dormant there is plenty of action in the root zone. Ensuring the plants have lots of available water at this time can improve survival when temperatures start to rise in the spring. Fall fertilization and watering your evergreens are two cultural practices that can make a big difference in winter survival and help your trees thrive next spring. Be careful when fall fertilizing follow label directions carefully and use low nitrogen slow released fertilizer. Watering and fertilizing can take place from now until the ground freezes. If you want more information on fall tree care contact an ISA Certified arborist, they are experts on tree care and plant health.

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