With fall, leaves are upon us (literally), so I offer some green suggestions. Instead of piling the leaves up on the curbs, adding to the taxpayer cost of refuse pickup, either make a leaf mulch pile or, easier, leave them on your lawn and let the lawn mower cut them up. After the winter, far from suffocating the grass, the fragmented matter will fertilize your lawn.

Second, if you do put the leaves in the street, first, obey the law. Kids (and their dogs) go jumping into those leaf piles and any twigs, branches, lumber debris, and bush trimmings (especially rose bush trimmings) become a hazard. You could lose an eye. It’s happened.

Why throw your potted ivy, tropical plants, chrysanthemum, and marigolds into the leaf piles? There’s no law against keeping them in the house over the winter. In the spring most will thrive and flower. Marigolds go through an amazing flowering cycle. During the summer you will see little red buttons form and by the fall they will become bright yellow and orange flowers. It’s something you never experience when you simply trot into the garden center and buy the chemically-stimulated plants, whose flowers quickly wilt and die. My marigolds flower and remain flowered for many weeks, running through their natural chemical-free cycle. In fact, they are still bright and colorful now, long after most have thrown their marigolds into the trash.

It’s a tragedy that the ordinance against dumping into leaf piles is not enforced. The “landscapers” are also culprits, and I renew my call to the board to have them licensed by the village as a condition for local employment. Dump and they lose their license.

In addition, walking and admiring the fall colors, I see pumpkins thrown in those piles. What a waste! Pumpkin is food, high in cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Clean them and bake them as you would any member of the squash family, or use them for pie! After only one week out in the cool weather, they are still firm, not having rotted. Alternatively, simply slice them up and put them under some bushes or in your mulch pile. With a large water content, the pulp will completely decompose after the first freeze.

Remove the seeds and bake them for a treat or leave the seeds on the ground for the squirrels or place them in your bird feeder. Those seeds that survive on the ground may well provide you your own pumpkin patch next summer. It’s happened!

If you are concerned about eating those pumpkins or think creating a mulch pile is barbarian, call a local farmer. The livestock, in particular pigs according to the Rikkis Refuge (Virginia) Animal Sanctuary newsletter, love the taste of pumpkins and it provides nutrition to supplement their feed. Chickens relish the seeds.

Everybody, including the planet, wins with these simple suggestions.

Les Golden

Oak Park

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