(Photo submitted) Mushrooms, plants and animals all benefit from leaves that are left on the ground to compost.

(Photo submitted) Mushrooms, plants and animals all benefit from leaves that are left on the ground to compost.

Mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms

Festival has something for everyone

Gardening, to me, is an art form and something I do not possess.

Therefore, when I visit the wildlife garden at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA), I tend to sit and admire the work the volunteers have done to keep things alive and thriving. At this time of year, the flowers are leaving us and the leaves are covering the ground but I’ve learnt that leaving the leaves in your yard or garden saves time and energy and also benefits wildlife.

Our certified wildlife garden at NIWRA is home to frogs, bugs, dragonflies, snakes, etc. It’s full of life even if you can’t detect them. Those fallen leaves provide cover and places to hibernate. Even moth and butterfly caterpillars stay for the winter in the fallen leaves before emerging in the spring.

Wildlife benefits as well. The leaves provide food for earthworms while millipedes love and live in the decomposed leaves. Birds and toads find a food source from them.

And then there is the fertility of the soil. Decomposing leaves leave the nutrients behind that the soil need to grow those beautiful plants in the spring and allow for water retention.

So, if you can’t stand the thought of having to rake up those leaves in your garden, why not just leave them.

Your soil will love you for it.

I have noticed some incredible mushrooms beginning to sprout up at the centre as well. Researching, somewhat, about mushrooms I have found them to be very interesting.

The multiple colours and shapes are limitless. Oct. 14, the fourth Annual Mushroom Festival will be held at NIWRA. This is your chance to see what Vancouver Island holds for mushrooms. The public is invited to bring their finds on Saturday, Oct. 13 for the experts to identify them and to be placed on display the next day.

This is a big event with many vendors, food trucks, special speakers and mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms. Please go to our website www.niwra.org/events to learn more.

Wild ‘n Free is written by Sylvia Campbell and she can be reached at wildlife@niwra.org

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