Blowing gold into the street for Jenkintown to take it away

Blowing gold into the street

Jenkintown budgets $14,000 each year to remove nutrients from your yard

Rick Bunker’s pompous bloviating aside, you do not own the sidewalk in front of your house, but Jenkintown Borough requires you to fix it. You do own all the leaves that fall on your property, and yet Jenkintown Borough will come and collect them — for free. All you need do is rake or blow them into the street, and the borough will come around with its $60,000 leaf mulching machine, manned by at least three employees, and take it all away. This makes sense… how?

Jenkintown’s program for leaf collection costs us $14,000 per year according to the latest budget, up from $12,000 last year (all nice round numbers, incidentally).

I grew up raking leaves and stuffing them into bags, so I know the drudgery of this particular chore all-too-well. In those years, I would have welcomed the opportunity to dispose of leaves that way.

As I learned more about organic gardening, I learned also that leaf disposal not only wastes of time and money, it deprives the land of the nutrients it needed most. Unlike wood mulch, leaf mulch actually helps the soil, yet, we pay the Borough to cart it away.

Jenkintown budgets $14,000 each year to remove nutrients from your yard
A mulching mower does a great job chopping up fallen leaves for composting or for spreading around my plantings.

Here’s all you need to do with your leaves, folks: Mow them. Most of us seem to have gas-powered lawn mowers. Most of those do a pretty good job mulching the leaf material into small enough pieces so you can spread them on your gardens or put them into your compost piles.

I have Mike McGrath to thank for this information. Mike hosts the “You Bet Your Garden” program on WHYY, and he gives out great advice for nurturing your gardens and yards in the healthiest manner possible. Mike writes:

…at this autumnal time of year, the material inside those bags tends to be mostly leaves, which are THE priceless resource for organic gardeners. Shred them up and pour or rake them into a pile or a bin, and those leaves will become fabulous rich, black compost—the backbone of any organic landscape. And shredded leaves alone make a superb natural mulch—preventing weeds, retaining soil moisture and encouraging earthworms to improve the soil underneath.

That’s why most organic gardeners are furiously shredding all the leaves they can gather at this time of year; you never get to August wishing you had made less compost or saved fewer leaves. And, when all of our own leaves have been shredded, mulched, piled or binned, many of us look with longing on those long rows of brown treasure chests sitting out at the curb. Discarded! Like trash!

If you’d like to learn more, visit Mike McGrath’s website and read this article. and this one too.

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