Garden work in all FOUR seasons should entail plenty of mulching with your own dead leaves, green weeds, freshly pulled, neighbors' leaf-trash bags, neighbors' trash barrels full of cut grass and leaves. I search HIGH AND LOW. I go onto a ladder for roof-top RAIN GUTTER wadded leaves (Neighbor lets me do her rain guttres. ) I go low, getting all GUTTER CLUTTER in the street where winds blew piles of leaves to the curb. In addition, all compost that forms on paths and in odd corners of the garden. My best find was under my sister's PINE TREES. ACIDIC compost, so rare in SOUTH CALIFORNIA. Gotta tell you, I don't do lawns, anywhere. So Most of MY COMPOST forms right on the paths. There is a permanent layer of dead leaves an inch thick on the maze of paths I use as a design signature. (My back yard and front are twisting paths with dozens of odd-shaped board-or-stone raised beds). You can use a flat shovel to lift it on to garden or get down on your hands and knees with a trowel and go down those paths, lifting the compost onto the beds. Yes, you want to make like an actual vulture! That's when you make use of lifeless plants like the notorious bird that waits til stuff is dead to eat it. Add to that unwanted plants. SPRING, you have to pull weeds, right? As Shakespeare said "Now, tis the spring and weeds are shallow-rooted. Suffer them now and they'll o'ergrow the garden." I know his mother taught him to weed as that was in his very first play, writ when he was young. (Not TITUS. That was a rewrite from someone else.)

So get this, year round, but particularly in spring, we yank everything that doesn't look legit and lay it roots to the sky so air kills its roots, but use the nitrogen of the green, succulent weed as compost and create a little mulch on top with  dried leaves and cover with a little soil. These little burial mounds dot your blanks areas between plants. They rot down to feed the plants.

In summer, many things are toasted by the sun. Be a MULCHER VULTURE again when around June 1st, you find those dead, brown, toasted annuals and bulb tops. Compost them where they are! Throw dirt on them, wet them down. My crocosimia die down in August and need scissoring to get the mulchy part off. A few weeks later, we pull the corm, dry it in cool place, Plant at the end of cold winter.

By OCTOBER 1st, the leaves have also fallen off the trees and are making a thick carpet of dry fluffy leaves. Get some use out of it, Compost them. You can leave them right where they are to use them, but to get quick, black rich compost, you must A.) rake the leaves into a bunch and lift it onto the bed! and B.) get down on knees, on a soft mat and lift that rich soil from either bed or under your feet in the pathway and place it up onto the flower or vegetable beds which are hopefully raised by lumber or dry stack concrete pieces. Slap that eroded black rich soil on TOP of that DEAD stuff. Slap those ruffly leaves there, cover with soil, and wet it down so it will rot fast.

All winter long, leaves continue to rot into my pathways, which are plain dirt. Pebbles, redwood chips would get in the way of rescuing all the debris that lands there. So plain dirt is prudent. The paths become good black soil from the leaves but ALSO all my  top soil erodes down off the beds under or thru the dry stack or lumber edging landing in my paths. It's inevitable and what's more it's the blackest top soil, it's great stuff.. So I pick up the path soil with a flat shovel & lay it on all the dead plants. You may have to hose & WET the path so it's not so brick hard & cement-y, so path turns friable, pliable. Flat shovel is a tool you use standing but if I have to use a trowel somewhere, I kneel on a mat, as ground is hard. Knees get injured easily, hurt for weeks after.

                    shovel for lifting dried leaf compost off paths,
                    patios.But if you use a shovel make it a flat one. They are usually full length. Actually no tool exists in the marketplace with a short, flat spoon end. I feel that you could make a mint with a MULCHER VULTURE, a flat shovel three times the size of a trowel, a light weight but sturdy flat shovel blade at least 8" broad, wide at the tip.  Package it with a KNEE MAT like a softball BASE, urethane or foam rubber maybe, in the same pckg. Gardening gloves also. And put a big, happy VULTURE on the cardboard package art, grinning at you saying "LOVE THOSE DEAD LEAVES." or "I don't get FED until it's DEAD!" ON the BACK the artwork that everyone hangs in their mudroom saying 'TODAY I'm GOING TO BE A MULCHER VULTURE."

IN SPRINGTIME, the weeds appear and green up and flood the garden like a beautiful, lush meadow. DO NOT BE DECEIVED by their  color now in this early part of the year. They are weeds and each one that lives thru summer will make seeds --- lots of them, a thousand children from each maiden weed in her innocuous green fluffy dress. KILL THEM ALL. Put a pad down, kneel with trowel and go at them. When you have a few dozen, PILE SOIL and dead leaves on them. Keep their bodies wet until they compost

Both in SPRING and later in the heat of SUMMER, you lift all dried, yellow baked plants up onto the raised bed. Those dead spring plants are all brown or greenish brown. Bundle the dead stuff up, no ends hanging over, lay the soil on top of them, bury them and include weeds by pulling out every weed you can reach, setting it in there upside down, roots up in air. The whole bundle will rot, composting what's beneath. All that dead greenery becomes soil quickly.

ALL SUMMER long, be a MULCHER VULTURE. Your gardens will start to re-bloom immediately. My spring blooming plants get that first spoonful they revive, come back and turn into biennials or perennials! Wear knickers you don't care about as you'll never get mud stains out of the knees!

ALL AUTUMN LONG, rake your leaves into a pile, pick them up and lay them on the beds. ALTERNATIVE: create a special, compost pile areas but as I don't like to carry leaves far, I just arrange them around plants right on the bed and get the SOIL from the path, too, and put that on top of the leaves! Autumn and winter will do the rest. They will melt those leaves into happy worms, black compost and Springtime or whenever you sow your annual seeds, you'll have black, wormy beds ergo happier seedlings & plants!

I think you could make a million dollars FORGING a MULCHER VULTURE sample tool, at a local GARDENING IMPLEMENT FACTORY. Make them in SOUTH KOREA for 3 bucks a piece. Wholesale them to HOME DEPOT type stores with the KNEE mat and gloves and ARTFUL PACKAGING of shrink wrap & cardboard. My gift to you is this highly salable CATCHY PHRASE of a name, The Mulcher Vulture! Now, all that's left is for you to quit the gym and do mulcher vulture kriya all year long on your own garden.


“Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted; /Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden /And choke the herbs for want of husbandry." Will Shakespeare