Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Using leaf mulch

It always amazes us that some of our neighbors don't keep their leaves. 

My gardening companion and gardening assistant with leaf bounty
They're such a great source of organic matter, and usually nutrient-rich, too, it's like throwing away the bags of organic material available for purchase at big-box stores. 

We're not talking big bucks here, but dry leaves are a LOT easier to move around than bags of mushroom compost, pine bark nuggets, or hardwood mulch.

Putting leaves out
We've got a long back slope in the mountains that benefits from leaves, and we have plenty of space to put as many as we can collect. 

My gardening companion (aka my husband Tim) is restoring it as a hardwood forest, pulling up the English ivy, editing the box elders and wild cherries, removing the debris of some decades, and opening it up for a variety of suitable tree and shrub species, not to mention understory woodland plants.

For understory plants to thrive, though, we need more mulch to enrich the soil, creating the deeper layers that support them in natural conditions.  It'll be fun to start planting when the soil's ready.

5 comments:

  1. We are experiencing leaves for the first time. (Virginia had a handful of pines, a dogwood and two Japanese Maples) So far Charlie has been mowing the leaves into the lawn....adding much needed organic material. Not sure how we will handle the leaves that fall in the gardens....thinking about just leaving them. I guess it depends on how deep they get. May move them into areas that we are trying to build up.

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  2. Lisa, For the 25 years we've been using leaf mulch and it's really improved the soil. It boggles the mind to see all of the bags left by the street each week. Tim's plans sound delightful~gail

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  3. I use all my leaves as mulch in the beds. In the spring, I pull some off the perennial bed just to get things warmed up quicker. I usually rake them into the path and mow them up with the mower. The smaller bits get blown into the beds. I don't use any other fertilizers. I also dump my wood ashes into the gardens and scatter them across the lawn just before it rains.

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  4. So true--at least my community composts the leaves though. I do admit a little apprehension because the majority of my leaves are black walnut (with a compound harmful to some plants, notably tomatoes), and I don't know how much the compound breaks down through composting. I just keep the leaves out of my raised vegetable beds and use it elsewhere.

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  5. Fine work with all those leaves!
    The plants will benefit.
    Rob

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Please share your thoughts. I enjoy hearing from fellow nature observers, as well as whomever else drops by.

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