Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bag the raking; try mulching instead

On what may be the last warm weekend before May, we've been forced to give some thought to disposing of all those leaves that have piled up outside.

In the old days, when I was a boy, this was easy: We'd rake the leaves up and burn them. I loved the smell of burning leaves. In recent years, I've had occasion to be driving along the Interstate on fall days, only to have the smell of burning leaves from a nearby farm pull me back nearly 50 years to the alley behind my parents' South Side home. Farmers can still perform this autumn ritual, but a whole urban and suburban generation has grown to adulthood since most homeowners could last legally burn the leaves they raked.

From an environmental standpoint, raking and bagging the leaves seems like a lousy idea. What's the point of sending the leaves to rot in a landfill?

The most enviro-friendly approach might be to leave the leaves in situ, trusting to natural wind power to disperse them. What the wind does not take away, the snow will eventually cover.

But there are drawbacks to this approach. For one thing, when the wind takes your leaves and piles them on the neighbors' lawns, your standing in the community will be hurt. Your tires may also get slashed.

For another thing, the same gentle zephyrs that deposit your leaves on Neighbor Smith's lawn will bring replacements from up the street. You may gain more than you lose. That rather defeats the purpose.

And after the winds subside, if the leaves left that remain are too thickly distributed, when the snow comes, the leaves may become so heavily matted that anything beneath them, grass and weeds alike, will be smothered.

Our family's search for an environmentally responsible alternative to raking and bagging has led us to try mulching. To the untrained observer, it might look like we're cutting the grass. Our grass needs cutting like a bald man needs a haircut. On the other hand, running the lawnmower over the leaves on the grass mulches them into little leaf-ettes, small enough that they can rot in place while still allowing air and sunlight to reach the soil below. The rotting leaf fragments supply nutrients to the soil like a free jolt of fertilizer. This guarantees that next year's crop of weeds will come back green and strong and healthy.

The grass somehow always seems to die.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Archiving November 2012 campaign links

I'm archiving the campaign website links of the candidates in the few contested Cook Cook County Circuit Court races here:
Most, if not all, of these links will be inactive soon, if they aren't already. Still, the addresses are preserved in case they may have some use for others in the future.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Judges Jacobius and Palmer appear on NTNM

Judge Moshe Jacobius, the Presiding Judge of the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and Judge Stuart E. Palmer, a Circuit Court Judge currently serving on the Illinois Appellate Court pursuant to appointment, are guests on this week's edition of North Town News Magazine. With the permission of host and moderator Avy Meyers, that interview is posted here as well.

Judges Jacobius and Palmer and over 50 of their brother and sister judges are asking voters to retain them in office on this year's November retention ballot.

For more information about the retention ballot, consult any of the following links: