I've had a lingering thought on my mind for a while.
Every year on my suburban block I see the trees produce endless pounds and pounds of leaves, really healthy looking 80ft + trees. All that valuable mulch just piles up so nicely on its own on the street in neat piles. Man, in those piles, you can see all that valuable, probably nutrient rich, organic matter in one place.
And then every year, its gets shipped off. All this valuable organic matter native to MY TOWN, gets transported 40 miles away to some composting facility in Newark NJ like its all trash.
All I can think of is; think of all this net loss of nutrients!
I feel like we're willingly impoverishing our town by just shipping these valuable leaves out every year. In a forest the leaves would get reincorporated into the top soil where it would remain part of that ecosystem, but now nutrients are just being pumped from the subsoil with nothing to replace them. The trees are basically subsoil nutrient pumps and the ground layer is robbed of its would-be reward of a nice layer of fresh leaf mulch.
How long can this process continue in cities; where trees pump nutrients out of the subsoil that are never replaced, or are never allowed to be reincorporated on the topsoil?
I fear that when the trees get old and die, the drained city soils could not support the growth of another 80ft tall vigorous street maple in its place, and the majestic city street trees would be lost forever after one or two generations of trees.
Location: Ferndale, MI- Zone 5b
posted 8 years ago
in my city, they take all the leaves and compost it. you can go on saturdays in may and have them dump a bucket full from a front-end loader into your truck or trailer.
i don't know what they do with whatever is left, but last year's garden did great. it's great!
I'm with you, MrChuck, it kills me to see this happening in my neighborhood, too. Perhaps when gas prices climb high enough folks will wise up.
If it's a well-to-do area, all the leaves are hauled away to be composted, and then this compost, "beauty bark," or other soil amendments or mulches are trucked back in and spread around in the garden beds. It's such a waste of time, money and energy.
In less well-to-do areas, the leaves are hauled away and nothing is put down to replace them. The soil gets more and more depleted and the plants begin to starve. I agree with you that another 80-ft tree could never grow in soil like that. It's so disheartening.
To me, it makes SO much more sense to let the leaves compost under the trees. Rake them off the lawn or sidewalks right into the beds under the trees. Such a simple, elegant solution.
Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C. does this. I even took pictures so I could show people! It looked great, too.
In some cities, people fill garbage bags with leaves and give them away on craigslist. I've already stuffed my little truck with bags of leaves that someone left on their lawn with a "free" sign. Last year I got three truckoads in five days.
posted 8 years ago
I feel like I have to start getting all the leaves I can now, because pretty soon everyone's going to know that they're throwing away valuable stuff.
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