Monday, February 17, 2014

Drying fallen leaves in onion bags!

My friend Bev in Mexico once wrote about what she does about the leaves that fell from her olive tree in her garden.  It really thrilled me.  We were exchanging some gardening issues when this point came up.  It was September 2013 and the rainy season.  I had written about the huge pile of the big leaves of our almond tree that come down twice a year.  Some excerpts from that mail exchange:

Bev wrote:
So you have lots of leaves with no where to go?  You can send them to me.  They make good mulch for the garden.  What i do with leaves is dry them in bags outside in the sun.  The bags are mesh like this... the bags usually carry quantities of fruit are orange plastic mesh.  I like to get the leaves really dry so they are crispy and these bags are perfect for drying because they let the air flow through.  The reason I like to dry the leaves first is to make sure they are not infested with bugs or worms, etc.  When I know all the leaves are nice and crispy, I go around the garden shaking the bag up and down where I want the leaves to be.  I can make pathways through the dirt that way and scatter dried leaves around plants etc.  Wow I wish I had all those yummy leaves! [She refers my almond leaves.]

I wrote back:
This is an impressive idea Bev. I may do it and I need some storage space for these bags if I do it.  
Almond tree leaves are large.  We do have the net-like onion bags which you mention.  I don't have it at home.  They can be easily bought cheap from the sac sellers in a particular street.  

Bev responded:
Dinu, you don't need storage space.  The best place to hang them is outside in the sun.  The bags weigh nothing even full of leaves.  I hang them (or tack them) to the sunny walls where they will get sun and air. You want the leaves nice and crispy, not moldy and wet.  You can hang them on the outside of your house, anywhere that is sunny.  I don't have any hanging now because it is raining, a lot.  We are having rain from hurricane Ingrid and tropical storm Manuel for at least the next two days.  I can take a photo of the bags I use and send it in the next email.  You can use any type of mesh material that will allow air to circulate. 

Bev again came back in the next email:
I have never actually sent anyone a photo of a bag before, but here it is. It is not very large but will hold quite a lot of leaves.  I'm sure there are larger mesh bags to be found.  I have 3 or 4 of these bags but don't have such an abundance of leaves as you do (in this photo you can also see how miserable and wet it is outside :(  I do like to use the dried leaves crushed up, but don't have any.

I had been mulching the beds of hibiscus and other plants with leaves that come down in February.  Some of those would be chewed up by the termites!  Never mind, they aerate the soil.  The Fiddlewood tree and the Aegle marmelos tree also shed at this time, but once a year.  They are smaller leaves.  I burnt some leaves for the hot water boiler, mulched some beds and preserved much this time.  I wanted to follow the Bev method.  Got 4 bags for ten rupees each Saturday last.  Filled two of them and stored in the scooter shed.  Two gunny bags were also bought but it is another option because it has a weaving much tighter.  The small pieces of dry leaves will be fantastic organic matter for the soil. 

So here we go, Dinu's Bevbag!

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