Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Cactus and Kalanchoe

(above picture from Paul Parent Garden Club)
Hello again,

Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club ( sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website ( to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM.

Here is some of what Paul had to say this past week:

The Beauty of Christmas Cactus

While the poinsettia remains the most popular of the holiday plants, a healthy Christmas cactus in full bloom is a great gift idea for that special gardener. It is easy to care for and can be grown indoors throughout the year. The flowers range in color from yellow, orange, red, salmon, pink, fuchsia and white to combinations of those colors. Its pendulous stems make it a great choice for hanging baskets.

The "Christmas cactus" is a closely related species of forest cacti that grow as epiphytes between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level in the Organ Mountains north of Rio de Janeiro in southeast Brazil, South America. Epiphytes need structural support from the trees where they live to survive, not nutrition, since they make their own food. Similar plants are orchids, ferns and mosses. That is why their slender stems weep over, filling your pot.

We typically think of cacti as being heat tolerant, but Christmas cactuses will keep their blossoms longer in cooler temperatures, 55 or cooler. It is important to keep plants in a well-lit location away from drafts of heater vents, fireplaces or other sources of hot air. Drafts and temperature extremes can cause the flower buds to drop from the plant before they have a chance to open. Over-watering turns the stems purple.

So, if you have a plant without flowers put it in the basement window for about a month and the flowers will soon appear. Christmas cactus, if put outside for the summer, will set flowers for you. As the weather changes in September the cactus will set flower buds all by itself. Cool temperatures, around 55 degrees F., are the trigger, along with short days. If it is in a room that the lights stay on until the 11:00 o’clock news, that could also inhibit flowering. The day never gets short enough to change from vegetative growth to flower bud production. Move it to a north-facing window.

The Christmas cactus is a tropical-type plant, not quite as drought tolerant as its desert relatives and, in fact, may drop flower buds if the soil gets too dry. Water thoroughly when the top inch or so of soil feels dry to the touch. The soil, should be kept evenly moist for best growth. I water about every 2 weeks.

Christmas cactuses will do best in bright indirect light. They do not need to be fertilized while in bloom, but most gardeners enjoy the challenge of keeping the plant after the holidays for re-bloom the following year. When they finish flowering, fertilize every 2 weeks with Miracle-Gro fertilizer, while the plants are actively growing. If taken care of properly, a single plant can last for many years, providing many seasons of enjoyment. If you repeat the cold process in the basement or cool room, it will flower again in February.


Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) is a naturally blooming succulent that offers up an array of blooms in many festive colors. Kalanchoe [kal-an-KO-ee or kal-LAN-cho] is a perky little plant that is easy to care for. Whether planted in a decorative basket or grouped together in a basket on the kitchen windowsill, kalanchoes will not disappoint you. In Florida, they are also called "Palm Beach Bells."

Kalanchoes, become increasingly popular as a gift plant, feature dark-green succulent leaves topped by masses of miniature, brightly colored blossoms in shades of red, orange, yellow, or salmon-pink. In their native Madagascar, the plants bloom only during the spring months, but with a little attention, they can produce blooms in any season. Bright light all year, and warmth during the summer, cooler during the winter.

Kalanchoes are similar to poinsettias and chrysanthemums, which initiate their flowering in response to short days. Growers pull opaque shade fabric over their plants for 14 hours each night until the plants initiate flower buds. You can accomplish the same thing by placing a box over your plant for the same "short day" period. I put them in the basement window like the Christmas cactus and they will bloom again. Normal flowering time is 6 to 8 weeks if kept cool.

Kalanchoes prefer to be watered deeply, but like to dry out between waterings. Keep moist in the spring to fall, and almost dry during the winter. Feel the soil with your finger and if it is moist leave it alone.

If leaves start to yellow, you are overwatering. If they look like they are shriveling up, your plant might be dehydrated and in need of water. If this happens, remove spent foliage and water thoroughly. Kalanchoes look best when fed every two weeks with a water-soluble plant food, like Miracle-Gro or Neptune Harvest.
Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Tree! Oh Christmas Tree!

Hello again,

Terry Skillin writes a great informative piece about caring for Christmas trees and the different types we have to offer here at Skillin's.

The most common varieties of Christmas Tree is the Balsam fir (Abies balsamea), Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris) and White pine (Pinus strobes). We grow all of these trees in southern and central Maine for our customers in Skillin’s Country.

Out of all of these the Balsam Fir is in my opinion the most fragrant followed by the Fraser Fir. Fraser Fir and Scotch Pine are the most sturdy, Fraser Fir may stay more fresh for the longest period of time by most reports from our customers; however, with proper care all of our varieties will be beautiful throughout the Holiday season. Balsam fir and Fraser fir have the more traditional formal Christmas Tree shape while the Pines are usually a little less formal.

The firs and white pine are native to Maine and all through North America. Scotch Pine’s range originally spanned from Norway to western Asia and Siberia and has naturalized in New England. Scotch Pine has been cultivated as a landscape tree and a Christmas tree for a long time. (these facts from Dr Michael Dirr’s “Woody Plant Manual”).

The first step to keeping a tree fresh is selecting a spot in the house that is away from any heat source. Then you cut off about 2” from the butt of the tree just before standing it. (We will cut the tree for you if you like).As soon as the tree is straight in the stand (this could take15 minutes or so) add as much water as the stand will hold. Adding a Christmas Tree preservative (like Prolong—sold right here at Skillin’s) as directed to the tree water does assist the tree in picking up water. Check the water level at least twice a day and add more water up to the maximum level. If a tree is allowed to dry out during the season all of these steps may need to be repeated. (This would mean taking the tree down and re-cutting the base.) A tree will stay fresher in a cooler room. We do offer Christmas Tree setup services at a reasonable price!

When you regularly water your Christmas Tree you are going a long way to keeping the tree safe from any fire hazards. If a full size tree is used in a home with young children and active pets make sure the tree stand is a suitable size to match the tree it is holding. Bigger is better, and a quality tree stand will last many years so the purchase can often be a “onetime life event” if your quality tree stand is stored properly with all its parts. We have found the need some years to tie the top of the tree to two small eyelets that we put into the ceiling molding because the tree stand is not big enough! Better to have a big enough tree stand! We can help you with that right here at Skillin’s!

Many customers like to decorate their homes with living evergreens as their Christmas Tree. This can be done and there are many “pro’s” to this proposition. With each tree you are adding a valuable plant to your yard that can have a lasting effect on your home. These trees can serve multiple purposes such as nesting and feed areas for birds and creating wind blocks against strong winter winds. They also create a visual record of the Holidays and great family moments. Here is a key point: Live trees should only be indoors for 5 to 7 days and then returned outdoors. The process of returning them outdoors is better if the tree can go from the warm home to a cool garage or breezeway for two days before going outside. Live trees are heavy because of the earth root ball and a 3 to 4 foot tree is usually all customers want to handle. (60-90 pounds) On the “con side of the coin” live trees are usually smaller than fresh cut Christmas trees but heavier and as we just stated they can only remain indoors for 5 to 7 days. The tree should be planted once it returns outdoors and with snow fall and frozen ground this too can be a challenge. It is best to dig the hole while the weather is still fair and then to store the soil from the hole indoors so it won’t freeze.

Terry Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
November 29, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Skillin's Thanks to You Thanksgiving Weekend Sale!

Hello again,

We are holding our First Annual Thanks to You Thanksgiving Weekend Sale and here are the exciting details:

*6” Poinsettia (630002) reg $14.99
Buy 2, Get 1 Free!!

*Bird Food includes Black Oil, Meaties and Lyric Brands
20% off

*Byers Choice Carolers
20% off

*Christmas Lights
20% off

*Fresh Maine made Roping—a great decorating weekend!
Reg $2.40 per foot, on sale for $1.49 per foot

*Christmas Tree Ornaments
Buy 5 or more, save 10%

*Living Evergreen Trees
20% off

*Fresh Cut Flowers—all weekend
30% off (not including Market Bouquets, Carnations)

*Christmas Tree Stands
20% off w/ purchase of Skillin’s Christmas tree (receipt req’d)

*Colonial Candes
10% off w/purchase of 1 box
20% off w/purchase of 2 boxes

Sale ongoing “Black” Friday Nov27 through SundayFunday Nov 29!!!!

*Thank You! *Thank You! *Thank You! *Thank You! *Thank You!

(very few restrictions may apply; prices for instock items only; while supplies last)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Skillin's Ships Fresh Maine Christmas Wreaths!!

Holiday Greetings to one and all!

We ship lovely and fresh Maine made Christmas wreaths anywhere in the continental USA! We suggest a beautiful State of Maine wreath—a 24” balsam wreath decorated with a red bow, cones and red berries! It smells so delightful, so much like Christmas in Maine!

Go to to place your Skillin's State of Maine Christmas Wreath order!

Ship a State of Maine wreath to family, friends, business associates anywhere in the continental USA for $36.99! Call us with an order, visit us at or come in to see us!

Skillin's State of Maine Christmas Wreath

But your freshly made Skillin's Maine made Christmas wreath choices are NOT limited to only the State of Maine Christmas wreath. Just scroll below for some more exciting choices!
There is a great Acadian tradition in Maine and our fresh made Maine wreaths have been a traditional part of the Christmas holiday for many Maine families for many Christmas season!

We can ship the awesome Skillin's Acadian wreath!

(Go to to place your order!)

(Skillin's Acadian Wreath)

As awe inspiring as Mt. Katahdin is to see, well let me tell you the Skillin's Katahdin wreath is "way up there" on the stunning scale as well! We would love to ship the Katahdin wreath for you!

(Go to to place your order for the Katahdin wreath!)

(Skillin's Katahdin Wreath)

Here it is! The ornate yet "saucy in its own way" Skillin's Casco Bay wreath! We would love to ship this wreath for you!

(Go to to place your order for the Casco Bay Wreath!)

(Skillin's Casco Bay Wreath)

Elegant; yet straightforward and affordable! Our Skillin's Foreside Wreath decorated here at Skillin's and ready to ship for you today!
Go to to place your order for the Foreside Wreath!

(Skillin's Foreside Wreath)

Finally, check out the fresh needled Skillin's Northwoods Swag wreath. Swags are growing in popularity and we can ship this easily anywhere in the USA!

(Go to to place your order for the Northwoods Swag!)

(Skillin's Northwoods Swag)

Check out our fresh Maine made Skillin's Christmas wreaths that we can ship to you or your friends and family today! Check them all out at or call us at 1-800-244-3860 to place an order by phone!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Think spring – even now!

Hello again,

I found this following article in the Worcester MA Telegram Gazette and I think it contains some nice gardening advice for this time of year in Skillin's Country. The writer is Paul Rogers and here goes!:

The New England winter season is long and bleak. Spring is brief and busy. Do we gardeners have the means to brighten the one and extend the other?

Indeed, we do. The key is to start spring activities now. How do we realistically accomplish this enviable goal? With a full understanding that the days begin to lengthen in 35 days, we spend as much time as possible preparing for spring.

Start out by cleaning up all trash and debris from your gardens every day that you can be outdoors. Sanitizing the garden clears the slate and removes untold numbers of potential weeds and pests from the property.

Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost over the vegetable and annual flower gardens. A dusting of ground limestone on everything from boundary line to boundary line would not be amiss.

Dig in the lime and compost in all bare soil areas. Leave the soil rough. You will be exposing grubs, beetle larvae, and other soil pests to voracious birds and other predators. The soil insects will also be exposed to killing cold temperatures.

By leaving the surface unraked, rain and melting snow will penetrate freely into the soil rather than eroding away. In addition, the soil surface will warm and dry quickly in the spring and allow earlier planting than usual.

Perennial beds and lawns will accept a 1- to 2-inch application of compost that will improve nutrient levels and soil structure, which will accelerate green-up in the spring.

Woody plants — trees, shrubs, hedges and vines — that were installed this year will benefit from a layer of compost placed under the pine bark mulch that surrounds these plants. If you planted roses or fruit trees, you have an added task for the former and two jobs for the latter. To deter rodents and rabbits from feeding on the nutritious stems of the rose or fruit trees, spread Milorganite, an organic fertilizer. The odor of Milorganite often keeps animals, including deer, from dining on the plants.

As to the fruit trees, their stems are susceptible to bark damage (sunscald and bark splitting) from the warming sun of February. From the ground up to the first or second tier of branches, the stem should be spiral wrapped using Tree-Wrap — a Kraft paper available in rolls. Apply it now and remove it in March. It is the best and cheapest insurance that you can use to prevent thin-barked trees from winter injury.

Make sure that your windowsills and plant shelves are well stocked with foliage and flowering plants. From indoors, when you are looking at a snow-covered landscape, it helps the view if the outdoor snow is framed by indoor flowers.

Kalanchoes offer long-lasting red, orange or yellow flowers above dark-green firm foliage. Holiday cacti are showing color right now. Pay a visit to your local plant place to augment your winter garden with attractive plants. Harvest or purchase stems of berried shrubs, branches of colored or contorted shrubs and use them in arrangements. Purchase an amaryllis bulb, some paper white narcissus, or a bouquet of cut flowers. Make your days brighter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Skillin's Holiday Open House! Nov 14 & 15!

Hello again,

This weekend brings our Holiday Kick Off to Thanksgiving and Christmas--also known as our Skillin's Holiday Open House!

If you are a member of our Skillin's Email List you should have received a "Special Holiday Open House Invitation for Savings" via email. If you are not a member of the Email List, drop us a quick note at AND just say Sign Me Up and we will send you that Special Invitation plus you will be sure to receive Special Skillin's Invitations and Gardening Advice in the future!

Here are some exciting details about Skillin's Holiday Open House:


Saturday November 14 8 AM to 5 PM
Sunday November 15 9 AM to 5 PM

And Fruit

Door Prizes

$25, $50 and $75 Gift Certificates
7’ Fresh Cut Skillin’s Grown Christmas Tree
7.5” Skillin’s grown Poinsettia Pinched/3 plants per pot!
18” State of Maine Wreath
Gardening Gift Basket
Gift Basket with Edible Products from our Gift Shop

Work Shop demonstrations (no set time--most of day)
Wreath decorating-customers will be able to decorate their own wreath with the help from us. They will be charged according to the value of the wreath and decorations they choose.
Boxwood Tree making demonstration
Bow Tying demonstration
Kissing Ball making demonstration

Specials saving on great Christmas Gifts
We are offering some great specials this year that really seem to fit the gardener’s holiday list.

Garden Center
20% Off Droll Yankee Bird Feeders & Droll Yankee Supplies
All Bird Food 20% Off
Amaryllis Bulbs 1pkg box reg 8.99 Sale 6.99

Gift Shop
20% Off Holiday Ornaments
20% Off Windchimes
20% Off Frames
10% Off 1 box and 20% Off 2 or more Boxes of Colonial Candles
20% Off Bean Pod Candles
20% Off Christmas Lights

20% Off Vases
Carnations reg .79 Sale .49
30% Off Silk Stem Stock
Thanksgiving Market Bouquet $10.99


African Violets Sale reg. $4.99 save $2.00 Sale 2.99
6” Poinsettias reg. $
14.99 save $3.00 Sale 11.99
Potted and Blooming Paperwhites Galore for the Weekend
6” Orchids reg. $36.99 save $5.00 Sale $31.99
6” Azaleas reg. $18.99 save $4.00 Sale $14.99


20% Off live B&B and Container Christmas Trees
18” Wreath with Red Bow reg.16.99 save $4.00 Sale 12.99

….. want more Holiday Savings?

Remember you can use your No Questions Asked Skillin’s Seed Money on all your purchases even items on sale. Our typical exclusions do apply (can not be used for wedding flowers funeral flowers, purchase of gift certificates, landscape designs or with redemption of Spring Bonds. )
If you have any question about this years event please ask us at or call us at 781-3860.
We can't wait to see you this weekend!
Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Garden Chores

Hello again,

I found these helpful garden tips at

The advice given is based on a zone 5B situation in very northeastern NY state and western MA so the gardening info given is quite appropriate to our conditions in Skillin's Country which probably averages zone 5A. I like a lot of the information they present. So I am listing some of what they have to say (their advice is in quotes) and I comment "somewhat" briefly (in italics) as to how we hardy gardeners in Skillin's Country can follow this gardening advice to our benefit.

"THE WINDING DOWN is well under way in my cold zone, and a beautiful time of reflection and rest lies ahead…if only we can get the place cleaned up before really harsh weather says “stop.” Target extra-thorough cleanup first to areas where rodents and moles might do winter damage, not leaving any heavy buildup of fallen plants and wet leaves in place. I set out mousetraps under boxes, buckets or cans where I see any activity, to rid them from my beds and borders. The garlic is in; the spinach (true!) will be the last thing I sow. And that’s not all I try to get done this month: "

"If you had areas where something didn’t fare well—an unproductive vegetable or fruit crop, an unwillingness of some shrub to flower for no apparent reason—quickly gather a soil sample before the ground freezes and take it in for analysis to your local Cooperative Extension service. Some amendments can be spread or tilled in before heavy frost to start to mellow over the coming months." We have plenty of compost left for you to spread over your vacated vegetable and flower gardens or around your fruit trees. November is a great month to do this; one of the great jobs to get done and out of the way before the rushed and exciting Spring days. We also have soil test kits here at Skillin's for you to send to the local Cooperative Extension service.

"If it all seems too hectic, remember: Seed catalogs in the easy chair are just ahead. Position it to point out the window, where there are still riches: berries, or perhaps bark, and new birds. Did you join Project Feederwatch yet? Recording of data starts mid-month, through April. Other ways to help the birds are here. "


"PRIME TRANSPLANTING TIME for deciduous trees and shrubs continues into this month, sometimes longer if weather permits and the ground show no signs of freezing. Make that work include some focus on the addition of fall and winter plants to the landscape." Most trees and shrubs can be planted for many weeks yet; until that ground freezes. And the cool weather is great to work in! We have trees and shrubs still ON SALE and we offer free planting advice and tips 7 days per week!

"SCOUTING FOR VIBURNUM BEETLE begins later this month, when leaves fall and their egg cases are easier to see. Remove egg cases by pruning off affected wood, between then and April-ish, to reduce larvae and beetle issues in the coming year. The bump-like cases are usually on the underside of youngest twigs. I also watch in May for larvae hatch and rub the twigs then to squash the emerging pests."

"CLEAR TURF OR WEEDS from the area right around the trunks of fruit trees and ornamentals to reduce winter damage by rodents. Hardware cloth collars should be in place year-round as well." In general much weeding can and should be done--not only around trees but also in the garden. We have had much rain and the ground is moist, moist which makes for easy weed pulling. More weed pulling now, MUCH less weeds this coming Spring and summer! Back to the rodents, the deep snows of the last two winters have meant much rodent damage around vulnerable tender fruit trees; so keeping those areas clean and protected is essential!

"BE EXTRA-VIGILANT cleaning up under fruit trees, as fallen fruit and foliage allowed to overwinter invites added troubles next season. Technically mummies (fruit still hanging) should be removed, too, but I like to leave it for the birds." Fallen fruit and foliage serves as a great harbor for disease. The hanging fruit also serves as food for deer at night; if you keep that fruit hanging you may well want to consult with us about how to protect some of your tasty evergreens from those deer!

"KEEP WATERING woody plants until frost is in the ground if conditions are dry, so that they enter dormancy in a well-hydrated state. Evergreens (needled ones and broadleaf types like rhododendron, too) are particularly vulnerable to desiccation and winterburn otherwise." Yes, yes, yes! Almost none of us water our plants enough in the fall. This is solid advice.

"ALWAYS BE on the lookout for dead, damaged, diseased wood in trees and shrubs and prune them out as discovered. This is especially important before winter arrives with its harsher weather, where weaknesses left in place invite tearing and unnecessary extra damage. Remove suckers and water sprouts, too. " This is good everyday gardening advice but with probable wild winter weather approaching the timing of this point is right on!


"MULCH STRAWBERRY PLANTS with a couple of inches of (guess what?) straw." I would not put the straw down yet. I would put it down much later this month or early next month when the ground gets cold and crunchy. If you put straw down too early the soft straw becomes too attractive for rodents as a nest. They will gnaw on the strawberries or whatever you mulch with the straw. Plus the purpose of the mulch is to KEEP THE GROUND COLD so the ground needs to be a lot colder and crunchier before you lay straw or any mulch down.

"PREPARE A SEEDBED NOW for peas and spinach for next spring, to get a headstart on such early crops. Spinach can even be sown this month, for super-early spring harvest; not the peas, of course." I am not sure whether I will get to it but I would like to get some spinach sown. Great advice here.

"PARSLEY AND CHIVES can be potted up and brought indoors for offseason use. A few garlic cloves in a pot will yield a supply of chive-like (but spicier) garlic greens all winter for garnish. Determined types with really sunny windowsills can sow seeds of bush basil in a pot, too. I rely on frozen pesto cubes instead, and you can store many green herbs over the winter like this." I LOVE the frozen pesto cube idea! We also keep fresh culinary herbs available all winter long here at Skillin's for your growing and seasoning pleasure.


"PROTECT ROSES FROM WINTER damage by mounding up their crowns with a 6- to 12-inch layer of soil before the ground freezes. After all is frozen, add a layer of leaf mulch to further insulate." Great advice. In just a few weeks it will be time to pile that soil or compost right around the crowns of the roses. Don't get too caught up on pruning roses right now. In late March or early April when the soil or compost is pulled back from those crowns then you will have plenty of dead rose branches to prune away. Check out this link at the Skillin's Garden Log for more advice about putting Beds To Rest!

"PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION to areas around peonies, roses, irises and other flowers that are prone to fungal diseases. Cut down iris foliage and rake well under roses." This is the same concept as keeping the ground around your trees and shrubs clean at this time of year. We talked about this near the beginning of the post.

"CANNAS, DAHLIAS AND OTHER tender bulb-like things including elephant ears need to be dug carefully for indoor storage. There are many methods, but the basics: Once frost blackens the foliage, cut back the tops to 6 inches and dig carefully, then brush or wash off soil and let dry for two weeks or so to cure. Stash in a dry spot like unheated basement or crawl space around 40-50 degrees, in boxes or pots filled with bark chips or peat moss. " In many areas around Skillin's Country the time is now to do this.

"DON’T DEADHEAD FADED perennials, biennials and annuals if you want self-sowns, or make sure to shake pods around before removing plant carcasses. Nicotiana, poppies, larkspur, clary sage and many others fall into this leave-alone group. So do plants with showy or bird-friendly seedheads, like grasses and coneflowers." I did prune some coneflower the other day but the seed heads looked pretty empty so I don't think I was depriving my beloved feathered friends.

"PREPARE NEW beds for future planting by smothering grass or weeds with layers of recycled corrugated cardboard or thick layers of newspaper, then put mulch on top." The cardboard or newspaper method definitely works--and quickly! Check out More Discussion on Newspaper as Garden Mulch!


"START A POT OF PAPERWHITES in potting soil or pebbles and water, and stagger forcing of another batch every couple of weeks for a winterlong display." We are all about paperwhites here at Skillin's. We also feature their close cousins, Chinese Sacred Lilies and Soleil D'Or indoor narcissus as well as bagged pebbles and neat containers to use for this purpose. Paperwhites are bright and cheery and make inexpensive and easy winter flowers! (And great holiday gifts!)

"CONTINUE RESTING AMARYLLIS BULBS in a dry, dark place where they will have no water at all for a couple of months total. I put mine in a little-used closet, and they will come out late this month, since they went in around mid- to late September. Pot up new ones now." New ones! We have gorgeous and huge new amaryllis bulbs available at Skillin's. The flowers will be striking and make long lasting winter companions!


"KEEP MOWING TILL THE GRASS stops growing, and make the last cut a short one. Let clippings lie on the lawn to return Nitrogen to the soil, and mow over fallen leaves to shred if not too thick, or rake them off before snow comes." Don't hesitate to grind those fallen leaves with your mower into the lawn. If you feed your lawn organically the healthy microbes in the soil will grab those ground up leaves and break them down fairly quickly over time so that the leaves will just become nice organic matter for your lawn. Lawn soil fed chemically do not have those plentiful microbe levels and so then too many ground up leaves turn to thatch and then layer or shut off the soil from air and sun. SO feed your lawn organically and grind those leaves and grass blades. For good organic feeding we recommend Espoma Lawn Food or the Organica lawn products (all sold right here at Skillin's).


"START A LEAVES-ONLY PILE alongside your other heap as a future source of soil-improving leaf mold, or when partly rotted for use as mulch. To save space and speed decomposition, run it over with the mower to pre-shred. "See I told you so about grinding the leaves! Good advice about the separate pile as partly rotted leaves make great mulch. Oak and maple leaves take a long time to break down so we don't really recommend them for your own compost pile. I send most of my raked leaves to the town landfill where the leaves are then sold to various agricultural farms and returned to the soil that way.

Mike Skillin
Skillin's Greenhouses
November 2, 2009