A Yard's Free Treasures

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

For many parts of the country, autumn is a time to clean up the bounties of summer and prepare for the severities of winter. While it's tempting to fill trash cans and leaf bags with these summer skeletons, it's also wasteful. Summer leaves a bevy of free supplies behind that many people are overlooking.


Leaves and Pine Needles

While raking leaves think about the natural forest cycle; the leaves fall to create a rich layer of mulch on the forest floor. Apply this to your own yard by composting the leaves this fall. Create a large pen by forming a garden fence into a circle. Then, herd your leaves into the pen and attack them with a large yard sheer or mulcher to grind them into smaller pieces. This mulch is a great under-layer for bark mulch in the spring.

White pines are also loosing their needles now in preparation for winter, though they will replace the needles with new ones much like an animal sheds its fur. Pine needles are great winter covers for perennials such as mums. They add to the autumn appeal of the mum, and they insulate the sometimes not-so-perennial plant against the cold. Pots which are home to spring bulbs also enjoy a few inches of the warm needles as insulation as do newly planted shrubs which happily wear their scarves of needles wrapped around their trunks.


Garden Plants

Before pulling up the frost-bitten garden plants, harvest what they have to offerseeds. Some plants have seeds that can easily be turned into next year's crops. Cherry tomatoes can be thrown directly into the garden soil where they will reseed themselves into new plants next year, likewise with gourds and pumpkins. While trimming, throw the seedheads from black-eyed-susans, four o-clocks, and cleomes into the soil where they will germinate on their own. Other plants have seeds that need to be harvested, dried, and saved for next year. Save sunflower seeds, marigold seeds, and other plants like zinnias for next year.

If reseeding isn't for you, try using the garden's seed crops in a different way. Save then spread the dried sunflower, cosmos, black-eyed-susan, and gourd seeds where the birds can easily find them. They'll appreciate the free food, and you won't have to buy as many bags of birdseed in the cooler months.


The Last Crop

Those last tomatoes that didn't turn green aren't a waste; they're a free bonus. Use green tomatoes to make salsa, relish, or the favorite fried green tomato. Smaller peppers that didn't make it to fruition can also be added to the salsa or relish. Think creatively to get everything you can from the garden and yard before the winter frosts take your fall freebies.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at http://www.kellybutterbaugh.com


November 9, 20070 found this helpful

The Green Tomatoes that are left when the frost come, are excellent for pickling. Also my dad use to wrap them in news paper, put them in a dark closet and in several weeks they are ripe enough to eat.

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