It’s that time of year in Central Texas… leaf season. Twelve metric tons of leaves fall from my one ash tree or blow in from the neighbors’ yards and generally bury everything in the yard. And every year I agonize – mulch the leaves in place in the yard or rake, suck up with mulching mower, and put them somewhere useful? Rake leaves out of the beds? Or leave them there to compost?
Yesterday I opted to do more raking off the grass and out of the beds so that I could suck the leaves up with the mower and mulch elsewhere. In the process I threw in a lot of still-green clippings from other plants to give the “brown stuff” of the leaves a little “green-stuff” fuel for composting.
But given that our rainfall has, well, fallen behind again, composting in Central Texas can be a real challenge. Keeping leaf piles and compost heaps moist is difficult. Without the moisture, leaves and other “brown” materials just sit… for a couple years in some cases. Using city water to artificially water the pile poses some challenge, too, as the chlorine and other minerals in tap water change the balance of beneficial microbes in the compost and soil. A rainwater collection system feed to water the compost pile would be ideal, but could be hard to rig. Yesterday, I dragged out my hose-end chlorine filter and let a small sprinkler water the compost for about 45 minutes after mixing in some of my leaves and some pine needles imported by my parents from Houston. Hopefully that’ll help jump-start the compost again.
While turning the pile, I did find some dynastes beetle grubs, so I know the pile is not dead.
I also managed to plant some oxblood lily bulbs my mom gave me. I panted them in a row along the edge of a path in my back yard, so hopefully, come next Fall (usually on my birthday), I’ll have a red-lined walk.