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The perplexities of leaf disposal.

Posted Friday, November 11, 2011, at 7:41 AM

I have been perplexed, confused, disappointed, you name it when it comes to why leaves are such a problem to municipalities. I have been this way since a town from which my brother was getting his leaves declared them TOXIC WASTE. Toxic waste?

They must have a broad, very broad definition of what toxic waste is and when I read in the paper that Tennessee had changed their rules regarding disposal of leaves, I was braced for the worst. Luckily it was based on open burning, not toxic waste.

Most of us know that leaves are organic and their decomposition gives the forest floor great soil texture and richness. So why do we make it so hard to return that to the soil?

I don't have the article in front of me, but it seems that it was stated that at one time Shelbyville just piled it, let it rot and residents were allowed to pick up what they wanted.

Apparently not enough residents took advantage of this? The pile appeared untouched?

Was it open for anyone, or just city residents? There are a lot of subdivisions in the county that do not have ample fodder for compost piles. Were they encouraged to help themselves?

Were landscaping companies given the same carte blanche to clean out the pile? Who cares if they charge someone for bringing it to them or use it in their business?

Charging commercial accounts requires someone to be there to collect but if you MUST charge, maybe just issue a license, with a yearly fee (to businesses) and police can spot check once in a while. I would think that removal not costing the city anything would be payment enough but...

It is saving the City and residents money by not having to buy bags, the city can fire up their vacuum again, which makes it faster and easier. The city does not have to transport it to a landfill in Murfreesboro, pay fees to dump and it reduces the amount going into the landfill.(go green)

I must be missing some important points here, so please, someone enlighten me. Seriously, not sarcastically, what am I not aware of that makes this a problem?

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Mulching the leaves AND grass is a great way to continually feed the lawn and add organic matter back to the soil.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Nov 19, 2011, at 9:22 AM

I chop my leaves with the lawn mower, and find this to be very effective. I understand it is good for the soil and it is not all that much trouble. It has to be done often or else the leaves will get too thick and push up in front of the mower.

-- Posted by Poksalad on Sat, Nov 19, 2011, at 8:48 AM

We don't have a formal membership but we are probably up to about 20+. We come to meeting as we can but at least half of these will pull together for a project.

I can put this Blog in a Word Document but I will need your e-mail address. Don't put it here. Send it to Steve@bedfordtradingpost.com My e-mail is public enough that it does not matter any more.

Yes, I will start the blog on public composting today, but I don't know if I can put it in poll form here. T-G can, so I will ask them this morning, if I can reach them. I am not sure what their schedule is on Monday.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Nov 14, 2011, at 7:43 AM

Steve-How many people in Garden Club? Can you get me a print out of this blog for Thurs. meeting? Can you run a poll question about interest in community compost site?

-- Posted by ckna910 on Mon, Nov 14, 2011, at 5:30 AM

I'll chime in to say how I would appreciate being able to get free mulch. Goodness knows my clay soil needs plenty.

-- Posted by jbillswms on Sun, Nov 13, 2011, at 9:09 PM

Good luck and thank you!

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Nov 13, 2011, at 8:41 PM

I am on Recyling Committee. Meeting this Thurs. I will suggest. Would be nice way to do something with a City-owned vacant lot.

-- Posted by ckna910 on Sun, Nov 13, 2011, at 9:25 AM

Many in our garden club have expressed interest in developing a community/demonstration garden. Just this past Friday in fact.

We were offered a few acres about two years ago, but it did not have water and it was a little farther out than we thought would be good for participation.

I am sure some of us would still like to help with a project like this.

I wonder if anyone from the City would consider getting in on this conversation??? Please??

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Nov 13, 2011, at 8:30 AM

In some states, it is illegal to dispose of yard waste in landfills. People are encouraged to compost or take leaves and grass clippings to community compost site.

I would like for the City to consider having a community compost site and even a community garden. I think there are plenty of folks that would even volunteer to work at site and/or garden to get the compost and veggies for labor.

According to EPA 18 to 50 per cent of landfill waste is yard waste.

I agree with Steve- let the Earth replenish itself. Can you recall how many leaves you see in the Spring?

-- Posted by ckna910 on Sun, Nov 13, 2011, at 7:13 AM

I used to pick up mine near the rail station in Murfreesboro. Not sure if that is the location anymore though. It seems like yesterday but in reality it has been about 18 years.

So does anyone have an inside track on why Shelbyville is not doing this?

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 5:27 PM

wonderwhy, first I am glad your grand kids are safe. :-)

Several things have grown strangely this year. Not sure about hickory but I will check with our squirrels and ask around.

I used to have a "reputation" in my neighborhood when I lived in Mississippi for driving around collecting grass and leaves. Somewhere in the archives my wife has a picture of me almost disappearing into a pile. It was above my head.

I still can't get enough grass (the lawn type), but I am a little more choosy about that stuff. If the lawn looks immaculate, I usually leave the bags alone.

Something is just not natural about a lawn without weeds or dandelions. At least that is what I keep telling my wife and I'm sticking to it.

craftin_mom, I am bringing the tops of some catnip tonight.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 4:11 PM

I use both leaves and grass clippings as mulch. Works for me.

-- Posted by cherokee2 on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 2:03 PM

We let them kids use their power to mulch/crush the many leaves then them take them off to the woods for nature to do her thing. ( the leaves not grand kids that is)

I have noticed that our shag bark hickory trees did not produce hardly any nuts this year, as apposed to a normal where it is crazy how many nuts there were, and the other tree by our deck the squirrels have cleaned it out already ( no acorn hockey on the deck with the cat this year) Do they go in cycles or do you think it may have been the heat this year? I do not recall them being this sparse before. It makes raking a lot easier ( we have close to a dozen nutty trees in our immediate yard)but it seems very odd.

-- Posted by wonderwhy on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 12:19 PM

my neighbor across the street was generous and loaded up the back of his pickup with his backyard leaves, then backed up to my garden to let me spread the good stuff around. Now, with the recent breezes and frosts, the pile doesn't look quite as fluffy as it was. I think I need about 2 more good sized loads then I'll cover it with a tarp and let it cook all winter. I'm looking on the sides of the roads for bags, but not seeing any yet.

-- Posted by craftin_mom on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 10:30 AM

When we lived in Rutherford County, we would go and load up the bed of the truck with the free mulch that the county offers instead of purchasing it. I don't understand why Bedford County does not do the same. I am sure that there would be plenty of people who would come and load up to put around their property.

I never understood the point of burning leaves. We have neighbors who smoke up the air burning their leaves every week.

We, however, rake them up and let the kids jump and play in them. When we are done, we spread them around so when they decompose they will provide food for our trees and plants.

-- Posted by PrpleHze on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 10:19 AM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.