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Compost Season

Well another gardening season has come and gone. Sure there’s still some tomato plants that are still doing well and I’ve got tons of peppers that I need to pick but for the most part, that fat lady has started singing. Lately, I don’t even visit the garden everyday. And when I get home from work it’s dark out, so getting outside with the camera just hasn’t been happening.

But while most of you are getting ready to snuggle up next to your fireplaces with a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite 2008 gardening catalog, I’m getting ready for my busy season. There’s lots to do in the fall if you’re a composter. You see, there’s treasure falling right out of the trees and it's just waiting to be raked up and composted. After a whole summer of rotten apples, half eaten pumpkins, plant waste, grass clippings and kitchen scraps, my compost bins are in serious need of some browns. And the best source of browns that I know is leaves.

And not only do I scoop up all of my leaves but I’ve also been known to go out after dark and borrow my neighbor’s leaves as well. Yes, being a composter has forced me into a life of crime. I’m a leaf thief.

Here in Northern New Jersey, we don’t have to bag our leaves. We just rake them into piles and leave them out on the curb. Then the leaf collectors from the town will come by with a big vacuum truck right out of a Dr. Seuss story and suck up all of the leaves.

But this makes swiping leaves a little more interesting. My primary method is to use a rake and a garbage can. I run out to the piles and hit them hard and fast trying to get as many leaves in the can as possible before high tailing it back to my yard. I envy all of you leaf thieves that can drive around in your fancy SUVs and grab nice neat bags and then make your get away while listening to your favorite CDs. Sure you must score loads of leaves in very little time but where’s the fun in that? I bet you don't even hum the theme to Mission Impossible while you're out there. Ummm... not that I do that or anything.

So while you’re sitting there nice and comfy with your garden catalog trying to figure out which tomato seeds you’d like to try next year, take some comfort in knowing that I’m outside stealing your leaves. Don’t worry, they’ll be put to good use.


  1. Katie said...
    I'm new to compost, but excited that I have a bin this first fall of my composting life.

    But then I need lots of greens to go in it too...seeing that all of the browns will be heavy California Sycamore leaves...I suppose that means I need to plant a "living mulch" and have an excuse to buy yet more seeds!
    steven said...
    Anthony, I swear we were separated at birth, but I just drive up and down the street on my riding mower with the trailer attached and swipe my neighbor's leaves. I've even scoped out which neighbors have walnut trees and I don't take theirs
    Anthony said...
    Katie, two words for you, Compost Crock. Get a bucket or something and save your kitchen scraps, coffee grinds and tea bags. That should be plenty of greens for your bin. Remember that a 30-1 ratio of browns to greens is best for making compost. Although buying more seeds is always a good thing too. :)

    Steven, my long lost brother! :) As long as your riding mower doesn't have a CD player, I'm okay with you using it to steal leaves. And you're actually mulching and stealing at the same time. Nice!
    Colleen said...
    But, do you wear all black when you go out at night, stealing leaves? It'll make you harder to spot :-)

    We have the same curbside leaf-vac system here, so I feel your pain. The city my inlaws live in makes them use yard waste bags, so I usually score some bagged leaves when we go over there to visit.
    Anthony said...
    Colleen, All black? I'm a leaf thief, not a leaf ninja. :)

    Interesting idea, visiting the in-laws to steal some leaves. I'm only 15 minutes from the NY border and they bag their leaves there. Perhaps a Leaf Thief Road Trip is in my future.
    Lesley said...
    In Cockney rhyming slang, a thief is called a 'TEA-LEAF'.... so there you are....sorted!

    Yes it is great how much landfill space can be saved by keeping a lidded pot in the kitchen for peelings, tea bags, outer leaves of cauliflower, fruit from the fruit bowl which you forgot to eat (naughty!).... and emptying it regularly to discourage flies.

    My husband also has his green green lawn which he cuts a couple of times a week, so it all adds up to three bulging bins!

    My next job will be to open the trap doors at the bottom and shovel out all the lovely brown stuff to be seived, leaving room at the top for the remains of the tomato plants and other dead things when I clear the garden
    kellypea said...
    That fat lady is singing in your neck of the woods because she's done here. She finishes up when it gets too hot in the summer. Then I can go out and trim and rake, and re-pot, and split perennials in the cooler days (which have come early this year and if I blink I could miss them).

    Leaf thief. Hilarious.

    Man I wish I had a real yard. I'd be all over this composting thing.
    Anthony said...
    Lesley, three bulging bins?!? Awesome! I love to hear about people composting. In the fall I have two 4'x8' bins that I pile about five feet high. But the compost goes so quickly in the spring. Maybe I need a 3rd bin too.

    Kellypea, I read your comment but all I'm thinking about is that blueberry muffin recipe that you recently posted. Yeah, yeah, real yard, sure... Mmmm, blueberries, yum!
    Blackswamp_Girl said...
    I'm taking notes... some people bag up their leaves here, but most just rake them out on the curb. I've been trying to figure out how to get these leaves contained and back to my house for a while now. :)
    Ottawa Gardener said...
    Skippety doo da skippety day, my oh my are there a lot of leaves on the ground...
    Ki said...
    Hey Anthony, come by our house in a month or two and you won't have to steal leaves, I'll give them to you, free of charge. Bring your rake though. Seriously, I got lazy last year and did not rake up a lot of leaves that were stuck in and amongst the shrubs. I think the added insulation and small amount of nutrients that the mostly un-decomposed leaves provided made a difference in how the shrubs look this year. I might get a little more ambitious this fall and at least shred the leaves .
    Anthony said...
    Blackswamp_Girl, Yes I would have loved to have seen a Leaf Thievery 101 Guide when I first started too.

    Ottawa Gardener, My oh my what a wonderful day. Thanks, not that song will be stuck in my head all day. :)

    Ki, Sure gardeners have been doing Seed Swaps for ages, I think it's time composters started some Leaf Swaps. :)
    T. Reginald said...
    I live in Connecticut where we have to bag our leaves. Lucky you, with the vacuum system; it's so much more environmentally friendly. I feel bad wasting so many paper bags on leaf waste.
    lisa said...
    You can have some of my leaves too, they are mostly OAK. For my wet layer-time to clean the gutters! Yeeehaaa!
    Ester said...
    you are hilarious. I love this blog, and being a total newbie to gardening, I'll be adding you to my favorites. Thanks for such a great read on this blog!

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