Sunday, November 15, 2009

falling leaves

It's the season to collect fallen leaves and I've been raking up a storm.
In our neck of the woods, we have a lot of big leaf maple trees.
Visions of rich brown crumbly leaf mould for next year's garden are on my mind these days.

Leaf mould is simply composted deciduous tree leaves.
In my garden, I leave many of the tree and shrub leaves to decompose where they fall, just as nature intended but I also want extra leaf mould for my veggie beds.
Since I decided I wanted to make lots of it this year, I've been collecting leaves at my place from around the edges of the forest....

....and because I need more leaves than I have at my place, I'm collecting from my neighbour's yard as well. Below, we're unloading a truckful of leaves onto a tarp and will drag it to the wire enclosures where the leaves will sit and rot. After about a year, it will become a beautiful super-duper premium soil amendment that I'll add to my garden beds. An abundant renewable natural resource!

Leaf mould is not high in nutrients like garden compost. It improves the quality of the soil because it's full of beneficial organisms and earthworms love it. It also keeps the soil light and helps with water retention. I'm really looking forward to having a nice combination of homemade compost and leaf mould for my garden next year!

Below is one of my new leaf collection areas. I've hammered the rebar stakes in place and now all I have to do is fit the wire mesh around them to create the wire enclosure. Then all the leaves will get stuffed in. I've composted leaves without an enclosure which works fine too.

The beginnings of another leafy pile in a different area of the garden. Eventually I'd like to have a few of these sculptural installations placed throughout the garden so I have the lovely stuff available to spread on my beds near wherever I may be working.

When I want to use my collected leaves right away, I put a little more work into it and run over the leaves with the lawnmower. This creates a beautiful mulch of dry leaves and grass clippings that can go on my beds right away. When the leaves are shredded into smaller pieces and mixed with nitrogen rich grass clippings, they'll break down faster over the winter and will become part of the soil in the spring. The photo below shows what my shredded mulch looks like.

I think creating valuable leaf mould mulch is something every gardener might want to try. It's so simple!

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