Online Betting: Harmless Entertainment or Dangerous Addiction?

online betting

Is anyone else concerned about the deluge of ads for online betting on TV? It seems everyone is promoting this form of entertainment, including athletic superstars like Auston Matthews, Wayne Gretsky, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan, and other famous faces. Notice though that these famous faces can afford to lose a thousand bucks here and there:

  • Jaromir Jagr ran up a bill of $500,000 with an online sportsbook before repaying his debt and quitting
  • Charles Barkley admits to losing $30M in blackjack and sports betting before realizing he had a problem
  • Ashton Kutcher revealed to Esquire magazine that raking in $750,000 in four weeks of college football was his reality.
  • Floyd Mayweather Jr likes to tweet about his bets:
online betting

In my (humble) opinion, these guys have more money than brains. I worry more about the average Joes though. No one ever mentions what they lose, just brag about the thrill of their winnings.

The Risks Involved

Online betting, AKA gambling, is an addiction. These betting sites can be u Like most things that are bad for you, moderation is the key. Of course, the risk to online betters depends on how responsible they are with their money. And, how educated they are on the process. The ads are catchy and glamourous though:

  • Unibet Ontario Sports Betting: Bet Anytime, Anywhere
  • Bet 365, the World’s Favourite: Bet on a Wide Range of Sports
  • No Sweat First Bet: New Customers in Ontario get up to $1000 back if their first bet doesn’t win

Was Online Betting Spawned by the Pandemic?

Did lockdowns dictated by the Covid pandemic fuel the fire increasing the popularity of online betting? The timing of all the ads sure is suspicious to me. Apparently, Alberta made it legal in September 2020, while Ontario followed suit in April, 2022. Coincidence? I think not.

The Buzzer, CBC’s sports newsletter, explains the legalities:

Bill C-218 changed that, removing the federal ban on sports betting and paving the path for more types of gambling to be allowed, like futures (e.g. a Stanley Cup bet placed at the beginning of the season) and single-game betting (e.g. the Leafs to beat the Lightning tonight).

Ontario is the first province to launch its regulated sports betting program, with multiple sportsbooks officially opening for business today. With a population of around 14.57 million people, Ontario is expected to generate $800 million in gross revenue from sports betting this year — hardly a gamble for the provincial government.

The U.S. passed a similar bill in 2018, and 30 states now host legal sports betting.

The Buzzer

I’m willing to bet (pun intended) that online shopping also increased significantly in 2020 and ’21 when people were forced to stay at home. Then in 2022 many were so used to staying home, they continued to take advantage of the convenience.

Know the Risk

The only TV ad I’ve seen that even mentions the risk involved is from the Canadian Responsible Gambling Council promoted by Andre DeGrasse advising you know the risks of gambling before imbibing.

I admit to being enamoured with and reliant on Amazon too that first Christmas, but call me old fashioned, the online betting worries me. Maybe it’s just the mother in me.

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Road Trip to Florida: Highs and Lows

road trip

The past few weeks have been vacation time for hubby and I, on a road trip to Florida. The first step involved renting a car as our 2009 Toyota Sienna would most likely not survive the trip. If you have tried to purchase a new vehicle recently, you will know what I mean when I say it’s not as simple as it used to be. With our Florida destination booked for three weeks we decided to wing the rest, ie stop when we were tired.

We have experienced a few hiccups along the way but nothing insurmountable. So far.

Thanksgiving (US) Weekend

When I planned this trip, I did not realize we were leaving Canada the day before the four day Thanksgiving weekend in the USA. Apparently most Americans travel that weekend. This became obvious as soon as we crossed the border…the highways were packed!

road trip

GPS

The Ford Escape (we love it BTW and it’s similar in size to what we are hoping to purchase in a Toyota product) we rented included an onboard GPS system. Although hubby is (still) more of a map guy, he grudgingly admits to liking the commands to “turn right now!” I must say, he listens to her voice better than he does to mine. We did get lost in Fredericksburg Virginia looking for our first hotel though. The hotel clerk excused the GPS though blaming the confusion on a recent road name change.

Then I panicked when I thought I saw our turnoff near Jacksonville and told hubby to take a different exit than what the GPS said, only to get stuck in construction traffic.

Since that mistake, we have both learned to trust the GPS to guide us to restaurants, beaches, and tourist spots here in the Nokomis area of Florida.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Our second night we reached Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. A slight mix-up with Expedia on our reservations made using McDonald’s Wi-Fi (they booked us for two rooms for one night, instead of one room for two nights) was efficiently handled by that hotel clerk. So efficiently we ended up with a significant discount. Who doesn’t love a discount, especially when travelling?

Hilton Head Island is a gorgeous vacation paradise on the Atlantic coast. I cannot believe we have have never stopped there before but know we will again. It was cool and cloudy with a threat of rain the day we spent there but the beach was spectacular; our favourite kind of beach that stretches for miles.

road trip

Red Tide

Our road trip to Florida continued after Hilton Head, arriving at our final destination on Casey Key, located on the gulf coast, twenty minutes south of Sarasota, the next day. Unfortunately, we had not heard that Red Tide had also made an appearance a month earlier, and was still hanging around like an unwelcome house guest. Luckily for us it had (for the most part) moved on by the end of our first week.

In the meantime we became beach hoppers, searching for red tide-free beaches to walk. I did develop a sinus infection that developed into a hacking (covid negative) dry cough, mostly just when sleeping. It just meant lots of take out instead on enjoying the ambiance at local restaurants.

Self Professed Beach Bums

We are definitely beach lovers. Our routine here develops quickly. In the morning we walk as far as we can one way down the shoreline, (approximately three hours) past the massive, gorgeous homes. Stephen King and Rosie O’Donnell own homes down there (the north end of Casey Key) and Oprah used to.

In the afternoon we make the shorter trek (two hours) the other way, past Nokomis beach, to the north jetty. Watching the dolphins frolic there is a favourite pastime. During the stormy weather several dolphins were surfing the waves just beyond the human surfers that gathered there to enjoy the massive waves. Even the surfers stopped to watch the better-than-SeaWorld show. If only I was quicker with my camera! I caught one of the playful dolphins on a video, see it at the ten second mark.

The sunsets along this shoreline of Casey Key in Nokomis Florida are also spectacular!

road trip

Following the sunset, we would head back to our rental unit for a shower, then go out to dinner (or bring back take out) Our favourite restaurants here include Paya Thai Curry for pineapple chicken or the chicken avocado salad from Mi Pueblo, both restaurants are located on the 41 bypass in Venice, Florida. Paradise Grill in Nokomis offered daily cocktail specials, happy hour and early bird dinner specials. And, Pops’ Sunset Grill was just a short walk away, on the other side of the drawbridge.

Family Visits

A favourite part of this Florida road trip was the fact that one of our sons and his family flew down for twelve days. Having two of our six grandchildren (and their parents, of course) for at least part of the trip was an added bonus. In fact, I’ve decided if I ever win the lottery, I will rent a big house down here where we all could be beach bums together. It would have to be a big house to fit all thirteen of us at once!

Elton John wrote Your Song with those (similar) lyrics:

I don’t have much money, but boy if I did, I’d buy(rent) a big house where we both (all) could live (stay)

Elton John

Weather

The weather has been unusually warm and sunny for this time of year on this road trip to Florida.

Other years we have not been so fortunate. Cooler and wetter weather is forecast this coming weekend though, just in time for our departure.

One storm moved through the area two days before we had to leave with lots of big waves and winds but the temperature is still warm and thankfully we saw no sign of a tornado.

Bugs in Florida

For some reason, we have both have more bug bites this visit to Florida. Researching the reason why lead me to Tuxedo Mosquito Control which lists five foods that attract mosquitoes:

  • beer
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • salty foods
  • sugary foods

This list made lots of sense since I had been snacking on bananas and guacamole on the long trip down to Florida. I don’t drink beer, but I admit vacation food has much more salt and sugar in in than my usual diet at home. Since I laid off the bananas I have noticed less mosquito bites.

Now to figure out the no see ums and chiggers. Apparently the lush vegetation around the VRBO property we rented attracts both of these tiny biting buggers. They are the reason most Florida residents have screened in porches AKA lanais attached to their homes. Unfortunately, our rental does not!

I’ll be Home for Christmas

Like that song says, we will be home well before Christmas and this road trip will be a memory in the rear view mirror. Although local residents here try to decorate for the holidays and plan a boat parade, a wintery white Christmas is for me!

We also managed to fit in some Christmas shopping in the evenings, including a specific ornament for our newest grandbaby was born last March. I had purchased four of these gorgeous stockings on our last visit here, right after our fourth grandchild was born. My sister had to mail me one from Texas due to the travel bans of Covid when our youngest grandson was born in April of 2020.

road trip

The cold front promised by weather forecasters has arrived, time to head north. Hopefully our road trip back to Canada will be uneventful!

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Red Tide Devastates Florida Gulf Beaches

red tide

Florida’s gulf beaches are (slowly) recovering from a devastating bloom of algae that both experts and locals refer to as red tide. Although this phenomenon has been around for years, rearing its ugly head in late summer or early fall, many insist it was more deadly than ever these past few months after hurricane Ian ravaged the same coastline.

What is Red Tide?

National Ocean Service refers to red tide as a harmful algal bloom (HAB). The problem arises when this microscopic, naturally occurring, algae called Karenia Brevis rages out of control, spewing toxins into the water and air, killing fish and other water inhabitants. The airborne toxins cause respiratory concerns in humans such as coughing, burning nose and eyes.

This particular algae bloom is red in colour, which, when combined with the blue-green of clean ocean water, creates a grotesque, purplish-brown, sludge-like appearance. (think red paint added to green or blue paint) The ugly colour of the water and the carnage of dead, stinky sea life on the shores made the typically beautiful gulf coast beaches not so beautiful.

What Causes Red Tide

There are several theories on what causes Karenia Brevis to bloom out of control. The most plausible (due to the fact that this is occurring on an increasingly regular basis) blames human-generated pollution. The Mississippi River runs from north to south through many of the united states, collecting garbage, sewage, pesticides, fertilizers, and more, dumping it all into the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf currents moving north along the Texas shore gather pollutants, sweeping them across the gulf and south up the Florida coast. The algae feeds on this pollution, causing the outbreaks. In turn, the fish killed by the toxins the algae blooms release are left to rot on the shorelines. The tide then carries the rotting fish back into the water to refuel the expanding algae bloom.

The severity of this recent red tide outbreak is being blamed by some on hurricane Ian that destroyed many communities along the Florida gulf with heavy winds and flooding a few months ago. Many of the resorts and homes along the coast use septic systems which overflow under such extensive flooding. As a result, sewage and other algae fueling debris ended up in the gulf.

Getting Red Tide Under Control

Mother Nature does her part attempting to get the situation under control. The ebb and flow of tides, huge waves, constant currents, storms, and human clean-up teams all help to break up the algae bloom. Vultures and smaller birds do their part too, congregating to feast on the rotting flesh of the dead fish and crabs.

Fortunately for my vacation plans, Mother Nature appears to be winning the battle. We had to turn back on our first beach walk when my burning nose and eyes felt like I was sniffing hot peppers! Every day since has been better and now I am happy to report that the pristine beauty of our favourite, swim-in-the ocean-in-December beach is back!

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Melaleuca Products: The Power of Nature

tea tree oil

I was reminded recently of just why I love Melaleuca products so much. They are not the cheapest on the market, but they are natural, bio-degradable, non-toxic to the environment and the user, as well as allergy friendly. And they work. They work extremely well.

What are Melaleuca Products?

This video explains the evolution of Melaleuca products as well as how and why they work. It also touches on the business side of the company. If you are interested in becoming a preferred customer (PC) to ensure you get the best prices and other perks, contact me to help you with the process.

I started using them years ago when I finally noticed how my body reacted to other cleaning products and personal care products.

My Favourite Melaleuca Products

There are tons of products, from make-up to cleaning products with healthy food and drink items, vitamins and supplements too. Here are just a few of my favourites:

Cleaning Products

This post was inspired this morning when I was cleaning the top of my kitchen cupboards prior to decorating them for the Christmas season. Don’t judge me, but this is about the only time these cupboard tops get a good cleaning. I am always amazed at how dusty and dirty they get. For this specific task, I choose Melamagic, a heavy-duty cleaner. I also use this miraculous cleaner to wash floors at the cottage and home and even to get rid of the black gunky stuff in our pedal boat every spring. It comes in liquid form (just add a bit to your bucket of water) or in handy wipes.

Soluguard, concocted from thyme and lemon, is my go-to for spraying door handles, kitchen, and bathroom counters etc. It too comes in liquid or wipes. The wipes are great to keep in your purse for cleaning things you come in contact with outside your home. This was (still is) particularly helpful during our obsession with the Covid-19 virus.

I am also fond of Melaleuca dish soap, dishwasher pods, and laundry soap.

Make-Up and Personal Care Products

Although I don’t order the make-up products (I don’t use much) I do like their unscented, aluminum-free deodorant and their lip balm. There are many flavours of lip balm to choose from that include protection from the sun. These are perfect for outdoor sports and for those of us that work outdoors. I order lots for stocking stuffers as my whole family (including the men and grandkids) love them.

I’m also stuck on Renew Body Lotion as a moisturizer that I slather all over, especially after showering and before bedtime. It makes a great make-up remover too, safe for use all over your face, including around your eyes. Renew comes in a few sizes, from purse size (also great for stocking stuffers) to the largest, most economical pump bottle.

Essential Oils

Another category of Melaleuca products I love and order regularly are essential oils. I use them to make my own bug spray, air fresheners, skincare, and more.

Conclusion

If you too are interested in using natural and safe products in your home and on your body, leave me a comment!

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November Weather

So far, our November weather has been incredibly beautiful. At least it has been here in eastern Ontario. We are enjoying this fall bonus as it’s not going to last for much longer I hear.

Garden Blooms Still Glorious

With the warmer-than-usual October and November weather, our perennial garden blooms are still hanging in there. A few light touches of frost have killed off some annuals but even many of them still look lovely. These are from the butterfly garden at our local hospice. I have been hesitant to replace the annuals in my containers for fall and winter decor because the annuals still look great.

Yard Work

Home and cottage yard work has actually been quite pleasant with this nice November weather. In fact so pleasant that fall is fast becoming our favourite cottage season. Warm days and evenings with an absence of bugs have been a bonus.

Even though we are missing a few trees, the deciduous (with leaves that fall) ones make for lots of leaves. It takes days to rake and mulch them, then add them to gardens. Every bit we get done this fall means less to rake in the spring!

I’ve also been granted a few extra days to clean up gardens for clients in my gardening business.

Lakeside Sunsets

The extended fall weather means we have been able to enjoy more lakeside sunsets than usual too. I cannot remember enjoying weather like this in November. When the weather is warm, my arthritic bones and joints are keen to stay at the cottage as long as possible.

Even the turkeys have been enjoying the weather (in the trees, third picture) Hopefully, your fall weather has been nice enough too. What bonuses have you experienced with this November weather?

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Support Workers Strike in Ontario

support workers strike

At the risk of offending all the teachers and educational support workers I know, I am wondering why they think they are so special. Although the current strike on the front page of the news here in Ontario is organized by support workers and not the teachers they assist, teachers are directly affected. Ontario schools were forced to close their doors for two days when CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) workers walked off the job last Friday in response to the province’s decision to remove their right to challenge their contract or to strike.

What About Other Unions?

Everyone wants more money, especially with the cost of living rising and the economy tanking. The problem is just that, teachers and support staff are not unique. Other unions, such as those that healthcare, carpentry, and construction workers belong to, have been limited to minor increases in their recent requests for more money. Each of these unions represents essential workers. If you weren’t aware of their importance to society prior to the pandemic, hopefully you learned something since then. None of them could work from home. In fact, many worked extra hours and shifts to compensate for the extra stress in their respective workplaces.

CUPE was asking for 11.7%!! Tell that to the other unions. The government (last) offered 6%, unheard of these days.

It’s All About the Kids, Isn’t it?

Throughout the pandemic, most teachers and parents agreed that their children’s mental health was of utmost importance. Why, now that things have (somewhat) returned to normal and kids are back to in-person school, do these professionals think the time is right to strike? Do they think the students (especially the younger ones) know why their mental health is not being considered?

Teachers’ propensity to strike every few years can not help but affect their support workers. Perhaps both groups (teachers and support workers) should be included in the list of “essential services” and not permitted (or fined if they do) to strike.

Do Canadian Teachers Make More Money than Other Countries?

In Canada, education is governed by provincial politicians. That is why there is a variation between provinces in curriculum and salaries. For example, within provinces considered to be more affluent, salaries will be greater.

Canadian teachers in general are listed as number 4 in the world for their salaries. Compared to their American counterparts though, Canadian teachers and support workers pay more taxes, and most experience a more expensive cost of living.

Are Support Workers Underpaid?

Just because teachers in Ontario are paid well doesn’t mean their support workers are. Although often behind the scenes, they provide important services. In fact, without them schools often (as is the case here) find it necessary to shut down.

The Latest on Support Workers’ Strike

The latest news has Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, promising to rescind the legislation, known as Bill 28, and the “notwithstanding clause” if the workers return to the job. What does that mean? Back to the negotiating table to find a compromise.

For the kids’ sake, let’s hope they do!

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Endy Mattress, Chiropractor Approved!

endy mattress

We just purchased a new Endy mattress for our cottage. Now that we are spending more time there and less time at home, it was time for an upgraded mattress at the lake. After researching our options online, we ordered the mattress and it was delivered to our door (at no extra charge) two days later. We transported it to our cottage easily in the back of our minivan, took it out of the box, and voila, the mattress developed right in front of our eyes.

Who is Endy?

If you have not yet heard of Endy, let me educate you by leading you to their blog. Learn why buying an Endy mattress online might be the way to go for you too. These are just a few of the reasons I was convinced. The fact that they are endorsed by chiropractors helped too.

Endy Mattress

The comfort level is incredible too. I also love the fact that I get a good night’s sleep regardless of how restless my husband sleeps. I used to complain that when he flipped over, I flopped too; I’m hoping the new mattress will lessen the flips and flops. After all, a good night’s sleep is important for overall health and wellness.

Made in Canada

Of course, I love the fact that these incredibly comfortable, supportive, and convenient mattresses are made right here in Canada. Shopping local has become increasingly important to many within the past few years, including me.

Endy mattress

Accessories to Endy Mattress

On the Endy website, there are many accessories to choose from as well. From bed frames to pillows and sheets, everything you need to complete your new sleeping quarters is at your fingertips.

Referral Link

If you decide to order your own Endy, use my referral link to earn us both money!

photos from Endy.com

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Seeds: Harvesting and Sowing Techniques

seeds

It’s that time of year! Having learned a lot over the past few years about harvesting and sowing seeds, this post shares the techniques I have been most successful with. The wildflower (AKA butterfly) garden created at our local hospice relied heavily (over 90 percent) on seeds. Some were purchased, many donated, and others collected or harvested by myself from my own and clients’ gardens.

Harvesting Seeds Requires Patience

The most important requirement for optimal seed harvesting success is patience, something I don’t have loads of. The seed heads have to be dried out, some actually fluffy (like dandelions) to be effective. Although I am loving this amazingly warm fall weather, seed heads are late to reach this stage this year due to the lack of miserable (cold, frosty) weather.

If you are impatient and do collect your seed heads before the seeds come away easily from the calyxes (the part of the flower head that holds the seeds together), dry them out in a warm spot, in a single layer.

Then, when they reach that fall apart stage, store them in a paper bag. Don’t use plastic bags as they hold moisture in causing your seed heads to get moldy. The faster the seeds dry out the better.

Brown Paper Bags

I find the best (and most cost-effective) way to collect seeds is to use brown paper bags. I use the kind we used to pack our lunches in, before lunch boxes were a thing. You can still buy them in grocery stores, so someone must still use them for lunches. You could also use the brown bags given out at LCBOs, they would work just as well. For those of you not living in Ontario, they are our government-run liquor stores.

Simply hold the bag under the seed head and cut the stem just below the seed head so it falls into the bag. I use a separate (labelled) bag for each type of seed head but that’s because I collect tons of seeds. If you are collecting fewer seeds of a greater variety for a blended, random wildflower garden, store them all in the same bag.

I add a strip of heavy-duty tape (book binding tape works well) to the bottom of each bag so the seeds don’t escape through the bottom of the bags.

Seed Sowing Techniques

I have discussed my sowing successes and failures in previous posts. The easiest method (that I tried) was the outdoor winter trick using clear plastic clamshell (from grocery stores) containers. If you try this, be sure to leave your containers in a partly sunny (not full sun or full shade) location outdoors for best results.

The plastic cup method in late spring also worked well, especially to fill in bare spots. It too was easy and inexpensive.

Both the clear plastic clamshell containers (winter) and cups (spring) act like mini-greenhouses, holding the moisture in and collecting the warmth of the sun. For obvious reasons, the plastic used must be clear (not frosted, no stickers/writing etc).

Before you pick one of the methods mentioned over the other, research whether or not your seeds require a cold stratification stage to ensure success. Most perennial seeds have a tough exterior shell requiring this cold step, while most annuals do not. The clamshell method includes this stage while the cup method does not.

Unfortunately, I have still not had much luck or success with sowing seeds indoors for spring transplanting. That technique seems to need lots of patience too. Perhaps that’s my problem. I manage to get the seedlings to a few inches tall then they fizzle out.

Conclusions

I’d love to hear from anyone that has experimented with seed harvesting and sowing, both failures and successes. It is definitely a learning curve!

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Evergreen Identification: Pine, Spruce or Balsam?

evergreen identification

After the derecho ripped through Eastern Ontario this past summer, I learned lots about the evergreen trees on our cottage property. I must admit identification of trees is not something I spent much time on with my gardening business.

When we finally got a specialist to assess the tree damage on our lot, he mentioned that the balsams (AKA firs) are not as strong, hard, or healthy as spruce or pines. Firs are not suitable for lumber but are often used for pulp and plywood. Although balsams make pretty and aromatic Christmas trees, they are not as long-living as spruce or pines and are more susceptible to spruce budworm. After their needles are stripped by the insect larvae, the trees die and their bare branches then become fuel for forest fires.

I love and appreciate the evergreen population on our cottage property. While I could always pick out a cedar or pine tree, I did not know much about the difference between spruce and balsam. Now I do. They are differentiated by their bark, needles or leaves, and cones.

Spruce vs Balsam

SpruceBalsam
barkrough withsmooth with
vertical cracksresin filled blisters
needlespointyblunt, flat
woody attachmentsuction cup attachment
conesgrow/hang downwardgrow upwards, like candles

Pine Tree Facts

Pine trees can easily be identified by their needles which grow in clusters, although that distinction varies between red, yellow, and white pines. To be specific, red pines have two long needles in each cluster, yellow pines have three, and white pines have five. Needles grow up to 6 inches long.

White pine needle cluster

Western pines grow taller and wider than their eastern cousins.

Red pines are denser and harder than white pines and therefore considered stronger. Neither are resistant to rot though. Pinewood is considered softwood, best used for carving, construction, and millwork.

Red pine cones are shorter and more egg-shaped than longer, skinnier white pine cones.

Conclusions

Evergreens are beautiful with a backdrop of storm clouds or a sunset in summer, snow-covered in winter, in contrast to the colourful leaves on deciduous trees in fall or new growth in spring.

I now look at them a tad differently though, in terms of which ones will still continue to grace our properties.

There are lots more evergreen varieties around the world…I only researched the three discussed here for obvious reasons.

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Fall Leaves: Rake, Blow or Mulch?

fall leaves

Fall leaves certainly are beautiful in this neck of the woods. At least they are while they are still on the trees. Not so much when they cover every inch of your lawn! If they don’t get removed from the lawn, they will smother the grass making it weaker in the spring.

So, should you rake them, blow them or mulch them?

When all the pretty leaves fall from the trees this fall, instead of bagging them to put out on garbage day, use them in your garden as free mulch.  Most leaves, with the exception of oak leaves, break down easily over the winter.  They add nutrients and humus to the soil in your gardens.

In the garden, worms from the soil will draw the decomposing leaves into the soil, improving the condition of your soil, which in turn benefits your plants.  Next spring you can bury the portions of leaves that have not decomposed in the garden, and marvel at how rich your soil is.

The leaves in the garden will also protect your perennials and shrubs, like a warm blanket, from the freezing and thawing cycles that do the most damage to garden plants.  Roses especially benefit from a blanket of leaves around their crowns at the soil level.

If they are small leaves, simply rake or blow them into your garden around your perennials and shrubs, taking care not to bury the smaller plants.  If the leaves are large, run them over with your lawn mower to shred them before adding them to your garden.  Oak leaves especially should be shredded, as they are slow to decompose.  You may have to spray the leaves with your hose once they are in the garden to keep them from blowing back onto your lawn.

Raking Fall Leaves

Raking is the old-fashioned way to rid your lawn of leaves. Some (my husband included) still swear by this method. We use plastic bags saved from new mattresses years ago to haul the raked leaves to a designated leaf (AKA compost) pile. This procedure works well if you have an area to store the leaves. (which we do at the cottage) I don’t mind raking but when we are talking about a huge property, a blower or mulcher is called for in my humble opinion.

The Advantages of Mulch

Mulched leaves are great for your garden.  They are an inexpensive way to amend your soil and protect tender perennials and shrubs from the wrath of Mother Nature over the winter months.  If your soil is really poor, add a layer of composted manure over top the mulched leaves.  The soil in my Kanata (Ottawa suburb) gardens was predominantly clay, so this fall treatment has really helped over the years.  Your reward will be visible next spring and summer when your gardens look gorgeous.

If you don’t have a blower or mulcher, you can run the leaves over several times with your lawn mower, then rake the crumbled pieces onto your gardens or into a compost bin.

Leaf Blowers with or without Mulcher Options

These contraptions also create great mulch for gardens and/or compost bins or piles. I first purchased a leaf blower several years ago, early on in my career of looking after peoples’ gardens and yards. I loved it so much I was collecting leaf-filled yard waste bags from my neighbours’ curbs to mulch. I love mulched leaves in my gardens. So much so that one of my neighbours gives me his mulch too.

As with any brand of leaf mulchers, you must wait until the leaves are dry before you attempt to vacuum and mulch them.  Wet leaves will just clog up the motor, resulting in a loud whining noise.  Wet or damp leaves also make for larger pieces of mulched leaves instead of the incredibly fine mulch. With low overnight temperatures and lots of rain keeping the leaves wet, perfectly mulched leaves were no easy feat these past few weeks.  I found the easiest way around this dilemma was to blow leaves into a single layer in a sunny spot to dry before mulching them.

Another thing to avoid while vacuuming and mulching is twigs or sticks.  They too will clog the motor, not to mention damage it.

Precautions

Most models are quite noisy so earplugs are recommended. The first time I used one without ear protection I wound up with a massive headache.

Although the models I’ve used have all been electric, there are battery-operated or gas-powered, cordless options available. If you are using a long extension cord or several combined (for large properties) be sure your extension cord is a heavy-duty one. According to Copper.org:

An improperly sized extension cord can cause a tool or appliance motor to burn out if allowed to run for too long. It can also cause a dangerous situation if it overheats.

Blower and Mulcher Brands

Toro Ultra Plus

I liked the Toro but found switching the blower to the mulcher tedious. You had to remove one attachment and trade it for the other. This switching back and forth was not only time-consuming but hard on my arthritic wrists.

The bag that held the mulched leaves had a zipper on the bottom to contain the leaves. This zipper was handy, but if you forgot to close it before you started the motor for the next batch, the leaves would fly all over. I did that a few times.

When I graduated to a fancier blower and mulcher, I donated my Toro to the hospice I volunteer at.

fall leaves
Toro Ultra Plus

Worx Leaf Blower and Mulcher

My next garden toy was made by Worx. I prefer it because you can switch from mulching to blowing leaves with a simple turn of a dial. Very convenient and much easier on my wrists. It too has a zippered mulch bag, so the “don’t forget the zipper” rule applies here too.

fall leaves

Black and Decker

The most recent blower and mulcher I’ve used is a black and decker model. It was given to me by the son of a client after she passed away. I took it to the cottage as I had one at home.

This model is quite impressive although it is now an older model. It seems more powerful than the others in both blower and mulcher mode. This is awesome while you are using it but it means the unit is heavier. I could feel the workout in my forearm muscles the next day. And the arthritic wrists well before that.

You do have to switch between the options by removing and installing the motor component but the process is so simple even I can do it without complaining. There is no zipper on the mulch bag. Instead, you insert the bag onto the mulcher head with a plastic latch. In theory, this works well but the latch seems flimsy, so after several batches of mulch it was getting loose. I’ve noticed the new models don’t have this latch.

Another downside to this model is that it has no shoulder strap on the mulch bag to distribute the weight of the tool as well as the bag of mulch. The other two models had a strap, perhaps that is why my forearm muscles and wrists felt the workout with this one.

fall leaves
Black and Decker

Conclusions

It doesn’t matter which method you use to remove the fall leaves from your lawn. Just be sure to do so, your lawn will thank you in the spring with a quick recovery from winter stress. So will your gardens and compost pile if you add the mulched leaves to them.

fall leaves
mulched leaves
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