The last harvest of the year is always the most bountiful and yet most people do not take advantage of it and it’s power. I am talking of course about the fall leaves that are building up on lawns all across America. This has got to be one of the most important harvest there is for a gardener, but yet so few take advantage. Leaves are filled with micro nutrients that trees bring up from deep down in the soil. When you add these leaves back into your gardens you are improving your soil and adding back good organic earth building material. Leaves are full of carbon and help set off the high nitrogen content of grass clippings and other green plant parts in your compost heap helping to keep a well blended mix that the microbes can break down into dark rich compost. Not only do they break down well the leaves keep the pile from being to compacted and soggy so allow for better composting.
Shredding those fall leaves is a great idea. The leave will be cut up into say 10 small pieces which will open up much more area for microbes to start breaking them down. It also will take the volume of ten bags and make it fit into one bag. Storing these shredded leaves in a shed or outbuilding will give you a lot of great mulch for your spring plantings. Shredded leaves are not only great for mulch they are rather attractive and breakdown to build the soil much quicker than bark products and they are free!
Now is the perfect time to help build the vegetable garden beds for next spring . Start with a couple of inches of garden compost then add a couple of inches of shredded leaves on top and fork them into the soil. The compost will add nutrients and the leaves will add tilth to the soil and provide food for the earth worms that help keep your soil well aerated.
I know that most people do not have a shredder but you do have a lawnmower and running the leaves over several times will do the trick. Mulching the leaves up with your lawn mower will be easy than just rake them into bags for storage or pile them into your garden cart an add them to the compost heap and the vegetable garden. You can also use the leaves for a protective mulch over sensitive plants or in your perennial flower garden to prevent frost heave.
So this year don’t waste you biggest fall harvest utilize it to build your garden and I will bet that after you see the benefits you will almost be waiting for each years harvest. Ok well I guess that is stretching it a little. Maybe it should be you won’t feel so disappointed as the leaves fall from the trees because now they will be an important part of your garden.