More on "Why less is better when it comes to fall cleanup"
updated January, 2023
updated January, 2023
-this fall of 2022 we posted fall cleanup tips from the October 2022 Farmers Almanac. There was an emphasis on keeping fallen leaves in the garden rather than raking them up. This short article, Leaving Garden Waste in Place Stores CO2, just appeared in the January 2023 American Horticultural Society's magazine, The American Gardener.
Gardeners are often encouraged to leave fallen leaves and other garden waste alone through the winter to provide food and habitat for wildlife, but researchers in Denmark have identified another benefit: significant CO2 savings that can help slow climate change.
“When garden waste is burned or composted by municipal waste schemes, CO2 is returned to the atmosphere very quickly. By keeping waste in the garden, the decomposition process is significantly slower. In practice, this means that one builds up a larger and larger storage of CO2 in the garden in the form of twigs, dead branches and leaves that are left to decompose,” says University of Copenhagen professor Per Gundersen.
Leaves can be raked into beds where they will decompose in three to six months. While decomposing, they suppress weeds while they feed worms and other organisms that contribute to soil health. Twigs and branches take two to three years to break down; if they’re chipped, however, they can be used as beneficial mulch.
Gundersen calculated that even in a small country like Denmark, if people retained and managed their garden waste on site rather than having it removed, they could save approximately 600,000 tons of CO2 annually.
“Our gardens can contribute to both the climate and biodiversity crisis by harnessing more garden waste,” said Gundersen, who thinks it will also lead to less labor in the garden.
For more details, read the article at the University of Copenhagen’s website: https://bit.ly/3UCuWpq.
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