Last week, we talked about how you can select lower maintenance trees and how to make the bounty from your current trees more manageable. However, when you take a more positive approach and look at the glass half full, you can see that there are many wonderful uses for tree leaves, flowers and fruit that can make one forget those other concerns altogether.

  • Save money. Know how much an organic apple costs? By harvesting your fruit, you don’t have to worry about them dropping and you get the benefits of fresh fruit at a significant cost savings, not to mention, the convenience of not having to go to the store. Save at the grocery register and at the gas station with fruit from your own tree.kid picking cherry
  • Share Your Fruit. What can make you feel better than sharing? If your family can’t pick and eat all your yield, ask friends and neighbors to come over and help themselves. If there’s still too much fruit, contact your local gleaners program, food bank or homeless shelter and offer all the fruit they can use if volunteers come pick it. In San Francisco, Neighborhood Fruit offers a phone app with the crowd-sourced locations of fruit trees around the city. San Francisco also has an active gleaning movement, wherein households with fruit-producing trees can register them, and others will assist in the harvesting and distribution of fruit the household cannot use. For example, the Department of Public Works is working with San Francisco residents and businesses to help collect and distribute food grown from trees and community gardens for distribution to shelters, food banks and other communities of need. Others will be grateful that you shared your tree wealth.
  • Feed Your Garden. Those fallen leaves are actually food for trees; Leaves decompose and add nutrients to the soil, making their parent trees healthier. You can also use the leaves to fertilize other parts of your garden. Leaves can use be used whole, or to speed up the process shred the leaves first and spread them over the portion of your garden that is done blooming for the year (if your garden is still going strong, store the leaves in bags or boxes, and use them when you need them).
  • And of course there’s the #1 favorite use of leaves….Rake those leaves into a big pile and jump in them! We guarantee you when you see your kids big smiles when they take that flying leap, you won’t have a thought about the “messiness” of trees.

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