This time of year I ride around with a pitchfork in the back of my truck. What other people consider trash such as pine needles is useful material in the garden. Bagged leaves with a few holes punched in the bag and left to compost for a few months make black gold. When I was a child I used to laugh at a school teacher neighbor of mine who did the same thing. I go organic as much as possible. I compost all my grass clipping and leaves. The power company brings wood chips every fall when they are in the area trimming trees. I compost these and use them for building raised beds around the garden. I make a berm with the chips and where I want to put a plant I’ll dig a hole, put in the plant and fill with some good planting mix. As the chips decompose you can add more as mulch.

If you don’t have room for a compost pile, there are several commercial composting boxes available. I have one on the property line between my house and my Mom’s that we throw in our kitchen scraps. I also have a worm bin in the garage that I discard newspapers and kitchens scraps into. I use the juice produced to fertilize my African violets, orchids and other house plants.

Newspapers make a great weed barrier around plants. Put down several layers and put 3 inches of mulch on top.  The newspapers break down slowly and add organic matter to garden beds attracting beneficial earthworms.

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