Horses for Future
Planet Project - Celebrate Biodiversity
Leaves, Leaves, Glorious Leaves!
Here in the Northeast the leaves are falling. Over the weekend my in-town neighbors were out raking their leaves to the front of their yards. The street I live on is lined with a long avenue of maples. At this time of the year it becomes banked on either side with huge piles of leaves. The town truck will be by in a couple of days to collect them and haul them off to land fill. Land fill!
Not at my house. I rake the leaves back from the road. The town isn’t getting any of the golden leaves that fall from my trees. The leaves mulch the ferns that grow under their branches. I add them to the front border by the house. I leave them to decay down into the front lawn. Why rake them when by spring they will have disappeared into the grass?
In the back garden I welcome the leaves that blow in from the neighbor’s maple tree. They mulch the wildflower garden and add much needed humus to my clay soil.
When I was little I remember for several years we went through the arduous task of raking all the thatch out of the grass. It was what you were supposed to do to maintain a healthy lawn. That’s what the experts advised.
My father rented a special mower that pulled the thatch up to the surface, and then we followed behind raking it all away. It was supposed to give the grass more air, more space to grow not that all that dead material was removed.
When we mowed the lawn, the grass clippings were collected and put on the compost. At least we did that. I am always amazed today seeing people collecting their grass clippings into paper bags which they put out by the road for the town trucks to haul away.
When we bought the house, one of the old tools that was left in the garage was a roller, a heavy drum that you pushed over the grass to compress it. It was supposed to help the grass grow better and to make it look more “golf course” perfect.
Thankfully, the thatching and the rolling went on for just a year or two and were never again repeated. The lawn was allowed to do its own thing. It was always a green carpet, but it has become a pleasing mix of grass and flowers. At certain times of the year there are parts of the lawn I do not mow. When the pink flycatchers are blooming, I mow around them. The same with the ajuga and the primroses that have crept out of the flower beds. I enjoy the variety and so do the insects, the birds, and the other wildlife that also make my garden their home.
In Gabe Brown’s Dirt to Soil, his third Principle of Soil Health is biodiversity. He’s talking about farming practices where monocultures rule and crop rotations are limited. In our lawns and horse pastures we can encourage biodiversity as well. A plant doesn’t have to be a tasty snack for our horses to be of benefit in our fields. Deep rooted plants bring up more minerals. Others are important pollinators.
In my garden at home by keeping the leaves and letting them become mulch, I am encouraging more biodiversity. I don’t know what is going on under the soil, but I certainly see the result in healthier plant growth above ground.
I can’t remember a time when we did not have a compost pile. So of course when I built my barn, I wasn’t just going to have a manure pile - at least not like the huge piles at the boarding barn where I kept my horses for years. The manure was hauled to the back of the property and piled up into huge mountains where it was left - not to be used, but just to be pushed out of the way.
At my barn the manure is composted so it can be quickly recycled back onto the land. It is a working part of the system.
So this week’s Planet Project is to celebrate biodiversity.
What are some of the innovative ways you have encouraged more biodiversity in your pastures, gardens and hedgerows? And what wildlife sightings have you seen as a result?
Through the week I’ll be sharing some quotes from a great book I’m reading: Wilding by Isabella Tree and Eric Schlosser. It’s an inspiring book that celebrates the importance of grazing animals in the restoration of biodiversity.
Horse people can make a difference!!
Horses for Future Episode 2: Jane Myers Equicentral System Part 2
Published Nov. 1, 2019
This week’s Planet Project celebrates biodiversity. In our second Horses for Future podcast Jane Myers continues to describe the equicentral system and how you can use the concept in a variety of different climates and soil types. She talks about the benefits of the biodiversity.
When your horse is turned out, do you want him to walk more? Jane explains why a biodiverse pasture is more important than the actual size.
How do you manage farm ponds so they don’t become an algae-filled mess? How do you improve your soil health? How do you encourage wildlife corridors? How do you manage invasive species? What do you do with your manure piles?
All these questions and many more are addressed in this podcast. You can listen to it on the sequestercarbon website (http://kurlanda.wixsite.com/sequestercarbon) or find it on soundcloud at: https://soundcloud.com/user-798671983
P.S. On Monday I said that I was going to share quotes from “Wilding” by Isabella Tree and Eric Schlosser. But then my kindle reader stopped working, and I ran into some technical gremlins transferring my library to a new device, so the quotes will have to wait until next week.