November is a time when we think about harvesting. Some of us have been lucky enough to have planted a great fall garden, and we are harvesting some fresh veggies for our dinner plates. But there are other resources in our yard we often overlook. Here are some of the treasures we can collect from our own yard:
Harvest branches and leaves: What? Don’t you mean throw them away? Absolutely not! Leaves, twigs, and other yard debris make great compost and mulch material. Don’t send them to the landfill, use them!
Harvest blades of grass: Now you think I’ve really lost my mind! If you let those grass clippings fall to the ground as you mow, you can skip at least one fertilization a year. That’s right! Harvest the nitrogen in your grass blades! To avoid clumping grass, mow it often enough that you are only removing 1/3 of the blades, and mow it when it’s dry.
Harvest summer annuals: If it’s time to replace your annuals, don’t throw the old ones out, your compost pile sure would love that extra material.
Harvest kitchen scraps: You got it! Don’t scrape the plate into the trash can! Many kitchen scraps make fantastic building blocks for a wonderful, nutrient rich compost pile. Do not compost any animal product except egg shells. Pet waste should not be used for compost. Fruit, veggies, noodles, even newspaper are excellent additions to your compost.
Harvest water: There are many ways to contain the rain and keep it for future use. Rain barrels are one way to keep gallons of rain at your disposal to water your garden beds and potted plants. Rain gardens are an innovative way to keep the water from running off of your property. Rain gardens allow the water to filter slowly into the aquifer. Another way to harvest water is to direct downspouts into landscape beds or into low lying areas in your yard. Installing permeable paths, patios, walkways, etc. also reduces stormwater runoff.
Harvest your energy: Now that the weather is getting a little more bearable, it’s a great time to get out and enjoy your yard! Pull those weeds, refresh your mulch, plant some pretty new annuals or perennials. If you want color all winter long, plant some pansies, petunias, hollyhock, dianthus, delphinium, and nasturtium. Don’t prune spring flowering bushes now, or you will cut off the flower buds.
Harvest hospitality: To our wildlife friends, that is! Create a wildlife oasis in your yard. Birds, butterflies, and other animals need food, water and shelter. Planting native plants is one of the easiest ways to attract native wildlife. Plant diversity and providing hiding spots with varying heights and sizes of plants also goes a long way towards making wildlife feel safe and welcome. We wouldn’t invite company over for dinner without providing food. Birds and other critters eat insects. If we want them in our yard, we have to let the insects be there too! Plants that attract butterflies are available in abundance, but natives always bring the most variety. Insecticides and butterfly gardens do not work well together. Provide a source of water, but make sure it’s moving with a pump, or that you change the water every four days. Mosquitos are not the critters we want to attract!
Harvest knowledge: Attend a free class offered by Florida-Friendly Landscaping or the Hernando County Extension Office. Check out our Facebook pages and resources on line. Go to the IFAS/UF publication page at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. Call Florida-Friendly Landscaping at 352-540-6230 or a Master Gardener at 352-754-4433 with your gardening questions. We are here to help!