Raking may not be the best job for young entrepreneurs, but there are other options

Violet Jopp rakes leaves

I know the readers are done with the columns about not raking leaves. By now you’ve probably read some of the “national” articles that now make exactly the same recommendation as this columnist. I’m not making this stuff up, folks. You live in Alaska, so you’ll get cutting-edge advice.

However, last week I received a letter from a 10 year old girl named Violet. Her father reads these columns every week and discusses them with her. Her letter was about my advice to readers not to rake leaves. “Yummy for worms,” ​​she remarked.

Apparently Violet is trying to raise money so she can buy an iPad. “Every year I go to my neighbors’ houses and ask if I can rake their gardens to make money,” she wrote. “Did you do that growing up?” Then the kicker: “Since a lot of people read your articles, they don’t want me to rake their leaves. So, I can’t get any money! Could you tell your readers that it’s okay (and should say yes) if a 10-year-old asks to rake their leaves?”

Violet, you gave me a tricky riddle. On the one hand, my heart broke when I realized what I had done to such an enterprising young lady. On the other hand, encouraging leaf raking is really, really not good. Even if people are willing to pay, it’s still not the right thing for the environment.

I call that a Greta moment. I want a world where a 10-year-old can grow up without climate change destroying things. Raking leaves will not help achieve this goal. So I think we need to find some other chores for your neighbors to do at this time of year. I hope they will be willing for you to take care of them instead of tackling them yourself.

I’ve thought about it and googled it too. One suggestion on everyone’s fall money-making chores list was wiping down and cleaning patio furniture so it can be stored away for the winter. I’m not sure how many Alaskans store outdoor tables and benches and the like; Most stay outside, eliminating the need for cleaning until spring. You might not get much business now, certainly not enough for an iPad, but it’s a good idea to start earning in the spring.

Something needs to be swept on the other side. Since you’re good at raking, I bet you’re just as good with a broom. You might sweep a lot even if it’s snowing as it’s likely to melt. decks need it. So does the furniture mentioned above. Of course, porches should be cleared and sidewalks swept clean. I would use a push broom and just scatter the leaves over the lawn – yes, to feed worms! Delicious! – or charge your neighbors an extra fee to use these leaves as mulch on their garden beds and around trees and shrubs. You might want to bring your rake in case it works better than a broom.

And then there are driveways to deal with. I think you’re old enough to offer a package deal. First, you can charge to sweep or rake. Then you can mark the edges of the driveway — and sidewalks — with fluorescent survey flags. I’m pretty sure you can get your dad to buy some. All you have to do is push them into the ground or snow. Tell your neighbors that the flags let them know where to plow and where to shovel snow. This protects their lawns from car and foot traffic and prevents snow plows from stripping the grass this winter.

I really appreciate the letter you sent me. I didn’t mean to deprive you of an opportunity to make money. I hope I’ve given you some ideas for other gardening crafts that you can use. I can see from your determination that you will achieve your iPad goal.

And to all other readers, take note! These are all chores you could do yourself and definitely should do, unless a 10-year-old girl knocks on your door and offers to do it for you for reasonable payment. As Violet and now the writers of Outside Garden have indicated, the worms will do the rest.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar

Alaska Botanical Garden: Join the ABG Board!!! Would you like to get more involved in the garden? Apply for the board. Applications will be accepted until November 1st. Go to

Houseplants: Your heating is on and you should make sure they are getting the right amount of water. Let your plants guide you.

Seeds for the winter: you can order them by mail. Some local nurseries still have packages from this summer.

A Community Forestry Council public-access talk: Trees as a Community Asset by Gordon Mann, October 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Contact Josh Hightower at [email protected] for a zoom link. Among other things, Mann will discuss the value of trees and highlight their use as infrastructure, comparable to streetlights, traffic control devices, roads and sidewalks.

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