The autumn is upon us, and cliches abound about golden gowns, crunchy carpets and all sorts of other guff. But I think we do need to say a word or two about leaves, given that this is high noon for them, that they are a very useful resource to us gardeners (as a peat substitute in home-made seed compost) – and they do, I am reliably informed, grow on trees.
The uninitiated might well assume that there is absolutely nothing controversial whatsoever about the tranquil pursuit of gathering fallen leaves. But not so fast my fine friends. As your trusty blogger has managed to demonstrate amply in posts passim, there is a row lurking around every corner, under every stone and behind every tree.
So can we get the rant out of the way first? A word on leaf-blowers:
Sorry. I may have to edit this blog when a certain person sees it. But really, this is a “why-oh-why” moment. Leaf-blowers should be banned, and anyone who ever so much as mentions those two words in the same sentence, let alone brings one up to the plot, should be shot (my mate Rob from Mowdirect says they do quiet ones, but I remain to be convinced).
And why is that? Because they are surely the most gratuitous, incessant, maddening, pointless and useless source of noise pollution known to mankind. If you lived where we live, our house backing onto a large school playground, you don’t need an alarm clock at this time of year, because such is the groundsmen’s aversion to the dead brown stuff that they feel obliged to blow-dry each and every specimen to within an inch of its life (and what the hell is wrong with a rake and a broom?). And the root of this aversion? No doubt because in this litigious little world that we live in, if one of the little darlings were to slip on a dead leaf and graze her knee, a call might well be made to m’learned friends.
But what has all of this got to do with the allotment site, I hear you ask? No, OK, no tenant has so far had the balls/stupidity to bring one one of those infernal things up to the hill. But the subject of leaves is certainly well up the agenda, and elephant traps remain when it comes to gathering them up.
I kicked off my foraging habit a fair few years ago by touring the streets with binbags, doing my best to avoid the litter, broken bottles and dogshit (and ignoring the theory that they are further contaminated by vehicle exhaust fumes). But what happens when you meet a bunch of “operatives” from the People’s Republic of Haringey coming the other way? They are not impressed by that sort of thing – “customers” (or are we called “clients” these days?) doing “their jobs”. (Try explaining to them why you’re doing it, and the eyes start rolling, the heads start shaking and the men in white coats are summoned).
I briefly considered transferring the foraging to the woods – but hang on a mo. Fallen leaves aren’t just lying there messing up the forest floor, are they? They are part of an ecosystem – one that is best left undisturbed (and yes, one of our fellows has indeed been bollocked recently by a local woodland ecowarrior for doing just that).
So what next? Well, for once, the People’s Republic have done something useful without cocking it up. Their parks department seems to be allergic to fallen leaves, so they dutifully blast them all to oblivion with aforementioned leaf-blowers, gather them up and dump them for free at the allotment site, all tucked up in allegedly biodegradable plastic sacks which, one year on, appear to be doing a very fine job of failing to degrade very much at all.
Oh well. Guess you can’t win them all. At least I’ve done my bit for saving the peat bogs. I haven’t bought a sack of seed compost in many years.