Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mulch those leaves, don't throw them away

Many people bag leaves up on their property every year and put them out to the curb.  This is such a waste of organic matter.  One of the places this organic matter comes from is the soil.  Trees and bushes mine nutrients from the soil along with water to grow leaves.  Therefore, to replace the loss of nutrients, a person has to buy fertilizer or compost.

Instead of hauling off leaves here is what we did on our property this year.  We raked the leaves into multiple small piles.  I took out the lawn mower and put the bag on it.  I slowly worked the lawn mower over the pile of leaves, tilting it up and then slowly lowering it.  The bag filled up within a minute or so.  I then took the bag of chopped up leaves to the what I am calling my berry area.  Here I have blueberries and strawberries growing with beneficials like clover.  Around the blueberry bushes I put some of the compost that I was collecting in the kitchen and from work.  The compost included things like banana peels, coffee grounds, coffee filters, apple cores, etc... Then over this compost I put down two to three inches of my ground up leaves from the mower.

Leaves are a natural mulch and will protect the plants roots from the cold, just like wood chips.  They hold in moisture.  But, the best part of a leaf mulch versus a wood mulch is that it degrades much quicker.  By next spring the compost and chopped up leaves will become great top soil for the plants and bushes.

My next project is to mulch my garden with the remaining leaves.  Although, I am running out of leaves so, I will make some trips this weekend to other neighborhoods and look for people throwing out leaves.

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