Leaves and disease

As the long nights approaches, the time has come again to prepare your grounds for the cold months
ahead. Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene is first most so important especially in the autumn. With the trees,
shrubs etc dropping their leaves, SWEEP UP leaves and NOT use leaf blowers as Blowers have a very
high risk of spreading diseases, pathogens etc to other unaffected Flora’s. When collecting up grass
clippings in leaf fall, dispose of in a council compost scheme along with any leaves SWEPT UP, as the
average garden owners don’t produce enough waste to warrant making a separate composting area
and it wouldn’t produce enough heat to kill any pathogens etc. DO NOT mix this detritus with your
normal garden composter as you will have a very high chance of spreading any diseases etc to the
rest of your garden. When using your mowers and other garden tools, clean your equipment before
going on to the next job EVERY TIME to prevent spread. As a estate managers, council contractors,
parks and public area managers clean all mowers, tractors, vehicles, tools etc when going from one
area to others even from tree to tree in solo tree scenario, also in forest, wooded and glades be
aware of diseases in trees and shrubs and treat as above to prevent spread and it is good hygiene
practices. Cyclists,Walkers, Dog owners and green lane users, when being in a woodland and areas
with trees. When leaving these areas please clean your tyres, boots and clothing and any equipment
used, this should be done on site as you leave if this is not possible then bag up and deal with in the
appropriate manner, always clean vehicles tyres etc on site as you leave to lessen the risk of spread.
As you are reading this and thinking to yourself, here he goes spouting on again. Well just recently in
my line of work I have to remove some box hedging because of blight. Which could have been
prevented through good hygiene practices of tidying up in the autumn times, but now the customer
has the extra expense of replacing the hedging, with shrubs that are immune to the particular blight.
On the plus side, at least the shrubs effected are not expensive or hard to grow. They where lucky
that the blight or any other disease/pathogen has affected other more important shrubs/trees in the
property. Farmers, land owners when you have lots of leaves to deal over large areas, you can
gather up in big piles and compost nearby by, by digging a pit for the detritus and cover up when fall
has finished. These pits can be used every fall season, but make sure the pits are away from rivers,
streams or any water run offs caused by rain. Some pathogens ie Phytophthoras will live for many
years and easily pass on through water running off to other parts further down stream etc. Other
way of good hygiene practice is to burn off the leaves fallen on the spot, which is a particularly good
way in orchard scenarios as you can just go along the rows of trees burning off in a controlled
manner. This burn off method will also help greatly with killing any insect pests that harbour in the
leaf litter ready to pounce in spring/bud burst to start the cycle again. Burning off or composting is
the best methods with out using chemicals, chemical might seem a quick fix but in the long run
chemicals are just another thing in the system that will cause problems for future generations.
With autumn now upon us, time of ghosts, gouls , bright lights, big bangs and bonfires please take
the time to check your bonfires for wildlife hiding amongst it before setting fire to it. Keep your pets
in the warm, safe and calm. And first and foremost keep you and your families safe.
Enjoy these wonderful times festivities and light shows.
Look out for my next article in the winters editions.
Simon Ambrose

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