There's something quite pleasant about raking up Autumn leaves, it feels like such an ancient, seasonal practice that it connects you not only with the current yearly cycle but to the same dependable rotations reaching back to the beginning of time.
So, while you are out gently scratching the dormant turf of your lawn and feeling connected to the great mechanism that is our universe you might as well do something useful with all the leaves you're collecting. As usual and almost as dependable as the seasons themselves, Quickcrop comes to the rescue with our '5 good things to do with Autumn leaves' neatly laid out for your perusal below.
1. Compost them Autumn leaves are perfect for adding to the compost heap as the brown or carbon part of the mix. Be aware that leaves take time time to break down so don't add them in big piles. Create layers with a mix of leaves and the last of your grass clippings mixed with your usual compost ingredients. Chopping the leaves will help them compost quicker with the lawn mower coming in very handy here to hoover and mulch them up.
Cover the pile with a sheet of old carpet to help keep the heat in and the rain out sand leave over the winter. Aerate the pile every now and then by turning with a garden fork and by Spring you'll have the makings of some excellent garden compost.
2. Make Leaf Mould Leaf mould is a dark, crumbly material made from allowing leaves to break down completely over a period of 2 years. Well rotted leaf mould is used as a soil improver to break up dense, compacted soils and make it easier for plant roots to penetrate. Leaf mould also stimulates the microbial activity in the soil which in turn releases nitrogen and other nutrients to the roots of your plants.
Did you know that leaf mould also holds up to 500 times its own weight in water? It is also perfect for improving the moisture retaining qualities of your soil.
Don't be put off by the fact it takes 2 years to produce, simply add to your pile or leafmould cage every year and take the material off the bottom of the pile when it's ready, it takes no effort at all.
3. Use as a mulch Shredded leaves are a perfect mulch for your vegetable garden and will help protect your soil from winter rain. Add a two to three inch layer over dormant winter beds or use around winter plants like kale, winter cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
We don't recommend digging leaves into the ground as they will take too long to break down. Leave them on the surface and allow them to weather, they will add nutrients to the soil as they decompose and will be incorporated into the soil by earthworms and micro organisms.
4. Collect them in bags for next years compost Having few bags of nice dry leaves on hand is invaluable when managing your compost heap next year. As you know successful composting is all about a balanced mix of green (nitrogen) and brown (carbon) materials. The most common problem with home composting is too much green material which results in a soggy and smelly compost bin. How much easier is it to add a few layers of dry leaves to a imbalanced compost pile rather than tearing up old cardboard and paper?
Gather up a few hessian sacks of leaves and keep them in the shed for use next year, brown material can be hard to come by in the summer so now is the time to collect yours for free.
5. Mow them into your lawn If you're not convinced about the reasons above for collecting your leaves or you're feeling a bit lazy you can simply mow them into your lawn. A fine layer of chopped leaves will break down over the winter and be incorporated into your lawn by earthworms. The mix of nitrogen rich grass clippings and carbon rich leaves will create a perfect nutrient rich lawn feed to pep up your grass in the Spring.
Set your mower on the highest setting with the collection box off to chop the leaves into a fine mulch which will improve your grass next year. Mow every week to create a fine mulch, if you leave it longer you may have to complete a few passes with the mower to achieve an even finish.
So, now you've no excuse. Get out and enjoy the crisp Autumn weather and make use of the valuable free soil improver falling from the trees. Remember if you need any tools and equipment to help you collect your leafy harvest we've got it all including leaf collecting bags, stakes and wire for making a leaf cage and the undisputed best tool for collecting Autumn leaves, the Golden Gark.