November 5, 2016

"The best way to keep leaves out of the streets and our lakes is to mulch or compost them in your yard."

"Yet most residents want their leaves picked up from the curb. That’s fine — so long as the leaves are piled a few feet from the street so they stay put during a storm."

Leaves in the street are a huge pollution problem here, because of runoff into the lakes. But the trucks that pick up leaves are also polluting (and cost us taxpayers money). I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them.

56 comments:

rhhardin said...

I rake them under the tree they came from, leaving a ring clear around the trunk. In a half year, they're dirtified.

Ipso Fatso said...

Back in the good ole days we would just burn them, which is one of the greatest smells in the world. Environmental wack jobs have ruined that tradition too.

virgil xenophon said...

SO true Ipso Fatso, and the environmental problems that have resulted from the new practices are just as bad if not worse.

Gahrie said...

I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them.

Because everyone doesn't have a live in gardener.

chickelit said...

Althouse wrote: I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them.

Is this opinion premeaditated? Did you think that before you married Meade? I think composting is wonderful, but not everyone in Madison has someone willing to do it. Maybe you should actively promote Meade's question to become Madison's Weed & Waste Czar.

Curious George said...

"Ipso Fatso said...
Back in the good ole days we would just burn them, which is one of the greatest smells in the world. Environmental wack jobs have ruined that tradition too."

God no. When I moved to Wisconsin you could still burn leaved in Brookfield, the first suburb west of Milwaukee county. It was awful...sour nasty smell all fall. Haze every Saturday and Wednesday.

Curious George said...

"I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them."

Because all those lefties really don't give a shit about the lakes. Or the environment. They'll do easy stuff...like recycle, drive Priuses, and ride bikes when it's nice, to make themselves feel good.

Eric Landgraf said...

Ann,
Are you or Mead aware of the technical term: CHAR? Using only organic material like leaves, a vacuum chamber and vacuum pump and a heat source such as an electric heater you can bake the leaves for several hours in a vacuum. This process converts the organic [by- product] material into a concentrated and very potent organic fertilizer. The resultant fertilizer is orders of magnitude more potent than what a composting regime accomplishes.

The electric power source can be a solar cell array.

The vacuum chamber can be built of brick, wood, stone, tile, steel or porcelain. The temperatures can vary by user need and the duration is a function of load, material, heat source and power.

A community can build a common processing center and the output can shared among th eits citizens.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Back before there was a Madison, who kept the leaves out of the lakes? And why?

bagoh20 said...

"Everyone" is a strange nickname for your man.

Men are paid zero cents on the dollar for this work. Politicians need to do something about this war on men!

Jake said...

How are leaves bad for lakes exactly?

robinintn said...

Clayton Hennesey said...
Back before there was a Madison, who kept the leaves out of the lakes? And why?

I wondered this too.

Freeman Hunt said...

I keep my leaves, but if you want them taken away, you have to bag them.

Freeman Hunt said...

Having to bag them highly motivates people to keep them.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

light a match

RJ said...

Oak leaves are a problem. They last for years on the ground, intact.

We tried the "mow your leaves" suggestion to break up the leaves and leave the bits on the grass. Might work with lesser leaves, but not for the oaks we had.

David Begley said...

in Omaha leaves and grass clippings go into big paper bags and a separate truck picks them up. The city them composts and sells it as Omagrow.

The Nebraska way is usually the best way. Wake up Badgers!

HT said...

Maryland has Leaf Gro, really nice stuff. I think leaves in lakes deplete O2, among other things.

traditionalguy said...

I take it they are no longer allowed to burn their leaves like the good old days.

Jim said...

When I was a little boy we got to burn the leaves. That's against the law now, unless you throw an American flag on top. Then it's okay. They can't touch you.

Owen said...

Burn would be nice.

I guess leaves in sewers = blocked drainage. And leaves in lakes = too much tannin. Water the color of tea...

Bag them and send them to the EPA.

Linda said...

My neighbor uses his gas fired leaf blower to get every last leaf stacked up and the next day his yard is again covered! I just laugh! We just run our lawn mower over the leaves in the lawn, sometimes it takes a couple swipes to chew the leaves up using our mulching mower. Sure our yard looks a little rough going into winter with all the chopped up leaves covering it, but by spring it looks fine. We are 'lucky' and have two city ash trees, our own ash tree (all currently being treated for eab), 2 flowering crab trees and a honey locust tree in our yard on the north side of Madison.

Birches said...

I had no idea people just raked leaves into the streets. We have to bag them if they are going to be picked up. My kids did ours and the neighbor's yard so they could make giant pumpkins with the garbage bags.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Looks like I'm the only Althouse commenter who rakes all the fallen leaves up the stairs and into the spare bedroom.

Ann Althouse said...

The problem is phosphorus, which causes eutrophication.

Before civilization, you didn't have storm sewers and streets collecting and channeling everything down into the lakes. The material would go into the soil, more like what happens if you compst on your own land.

Ann Althouse said...

Before Meade, I left the backyard leaves where they fell and raked the front yard leaves to the terrace for pickup by the city.

Ann Althouse said...

I hate leaf blowers. So disturbingly noisy.

Polluting too.

I would outlaw them in my neighborhood.

HT said...

Ann Althouse said...

I hate leaf blowers. So disturbingly noisy.

Polluting too.

I would outlaw them in my neighborhood.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/we-know-you-love-your-leaf-blower-but-its-ruining-the-neighborhood/2016/10/31/0563e4a4-9b99-11e6-b3c9-f662adaa0048_story.html

David said...

Save the planet. Kill a tree.

Snark said...

You leave unbagged leaves by the street and trucks come and pick them up? Not since I learned that there are wild turkeys that wander around the streets there have I been so surprised by weird things that happen in places that aren't mine.

Original Mike said...

"I don't see why everyone doesn't keep their leaves and compost them."

Because I don't have the room.

Mac McConnell said...

My strap on the back leaf blower is a god send. My front yard is lined with 70 foot pin oaks. My back yard with pin oaks and a 75 foot sycamore with leaves the size of a 1959 Cadillac hubcap. If I mulched I wouldn't have any grass front or back. My neighbors mulch they have hardly any grass.

I blow my yard twice a week, on saturdays this time of year I take 8 plastic large construction bags to the compost dump. That and on tuesdays the city picks up 3 paper bags of lawn clippings.

Don't all lakes die eventually?

Big Mike said...

What Original Mike wrote.

David said...

"Before Meade, I left the backyard leaves where they fell and raked the front yard leaves to the terrace for pickup by the city."

Meade is a labor saving device. Now you don't have to rake either one and still the leaves are cleared.

Meade said...

Linda has the right idea.

Meade said...

And here's a good tutorial from the U of W Extension Service.

chickelit said...

Mac McConnell said...My strap on the back leaf blower is a god send.

It lets you blow hard wood leaves like a pro!

Freeman Hunt said...

One time a man and his son came by to ask if they could have our acorns. "Sure." I think they vacuumed the front yard with a shop vac to get the acorns. I guess they planted an oak farm. Hope people like pin oaks.

Freeman Hunt said...

Another man once said, "I can tell you how to get rid of this moss." "Why would I want to do that?" "To put back the grass in that spot." "I like the moss a lot better than the grass." At that, he took me for an eccentric.

Douglas said...

The best thing to do with leaves is burn them. Even today, the smell of burning leaves (they burn them here in China) brings happy memories from my childhood. The little bit of air pollution (soot) that results is gone in a couple of days, and the smell of burning leaves is quite fragrant and pleasant. Alas, the environmentalist extremists ruined this too.

Meade said...

Our kind of eccentric.

Rae said...

Buzz em with a lawnmower til they're confetti. They compost themselves. In the spring you'll have a nice green lawn.

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, I remember burning leaves. It was part of the fun of leaves. Raking was work, but then there was jumping in the piles of leaves and when that was done, burning them. It did smell great.

Paddy O said...

Another vote for outlawing leaf blowers.

chickelit said...

Meade said...Our kind of eccentric.

I though McMullin was your kind of egg-centric.

Bob said...

What did the leaves do before you were there?

Curious George said...

"David Begley said...
The Nebraska way is usually the best way."

Didn't work out that way in Columbus, OH last night. But you did say "usually."




Rusty said...

You mean to tell me that the pre-European inhabitants of the Madison area would rake the fallen leaves away from the area lakes and streams?

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
The problem is phosphorus, which causes eutrophication.

"Before civilization, you didn't have storm sewers and streets collecting and channeling everything down into the lakes. The material would go into the soil, more like what happens if you compost on your own land."

OK didn't see that before I posted. And no the wind and water still brought the leaves to the area lakes and streams and stained the water tea colored. This was not necessarily bad for the water. Southern Wisconsin streams had healthy populations of brook trout which require very clean water to survive.
I currently mulch them with a mower, but I like the -rake them around the tree-idea. Next year though.

befinne said...

Fifty years ago, outside Chicago, once we were done raking and jumping in the leaves, we'd put potatoes in the pile and burn it down. Tasty!

Rusty said...

Ah, the good old days. Children running through piles of burning leaves. Setting themselves on fire.

To me autumn will always be reminiscent of the smell of burning children.

Meade said...

"...smell of burning children"

Made all the sweeter by having been fattened and finished on Halloween candy. Subtle notes of tootsie roll and butterfinger.

wildswan said...

I just saw a pile of leaves 8 feet long and three deep confined by chicken wire at a neighbors. The worms will get in and it will be dirt by spring, I was told. I suggested electrifying the chicken wire to keep out the worms and protect the leaves and everybody moved away from me. I guess they want the dirt but they had plenty already.

Here we have the leaves picked up by trucks with a huge vacuum cleaner hose. The leaves are taken somewhere and turned into compost pellets which you buy for your yard which pays for the trucks. This is an ecological feedback loop as understood by Milwaukee.

wildswan said...

I just saw a pile of leaves 8 feet long and three deep confined by chicken wire at a neighbors. The worms will get in and it will be dirt by spring, I was told. I suggested electrifying the chicken wire to keep out the worms and protect the leaves and everybody moved away from me. I guess they want the dirt but they had plenty already.

Here we have the leaves picked up by trucks with a huge vacuum cleaner hose. The leaves are taken somewhere and turned into compost pellets which you buy for your yard which pays for the trucks. This is an ecological feedback loop as understood by Milwaukee.

Jim Grey said...

I live on 1/3 acre in an older suburb (way more space between houses than today's vinyl villages). And the neighborhood is heavily wooded, though that's thinning out as everybody removes their dead ash trees (thanks emerald ash borer). Anyway, I have a corner of my back yard that's behind a low wood fence, and about half the time I dump leaves back there. The other half I mulch them back into the ground with my lawn tractor. It works great, and no more bags of leaves at the curb. (My city requires that you bag them if you want them to pick them up.)

Rusty said...

The irony is that my little village on the banks of the Fox River(Illinois) Sucks up the leaves from the curb and leaves them in huge piles at the municipal pool parking lot. Some years completely covering the parking lot in twenty foot piles of leaves. Our municipal swimming hole is an actual old limestone quarry right next to the river. The wastewater drains in the parking lot go directly to the river. Win!