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Question: 1301-3815
Can you give me some advice on leaving leaves? Karen, Townsend, MA

Mort's Answer:
My best suggestion is to shred all the leaves and then put them in your flower beds. I do not recommend leaving them whole on the lawn. This encourages fungi, which are not fun. If your want to put the shredded leaves into a compost pile, they will sterilize over the winter. This can be used with loam for a rich mix to plant your shrubs and perennials. If you have too many leaves, you could risk leaving them whole in the beds. You may be protecting insects progeny.

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Question: 98-5201
What cause the color changes in leaves in the fall? Charlotte, North Kingstown, RI

Mort's Answer:
Green chloroplasts dominate the pigmentation in the plants during high light intensity. When the days get shorter, the yellow, red orange and purple chloroplasts take over. Also the starches in the some plants turn to sugar,which enriches the whole process. This trick is duplicated in the firing of flower bracts that are forced to have poinsettia for Christmas or Easter.

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Question: 651-4811
I do not think that I will be able to get someone to remove my leaves from my beds. Can I leave them? Linda, Pana, IL

Mort's Answer:
If there is no black tar fungus, you can use them as a mulch. Black tar fungus is a black bubble that grows through the leaf from the bottom. Infected leaves should be carted off to the dump. It is better to shred the leaves for more insulation and quicker decomposition but not essential. It is not much but it is mulch.

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