Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaves Are A Gardener's Friend

Although you may feel that leaves are a burden to rake, bag, and dispose of - they can actually be a boon to the gardener.

You can compost them as a source of "brown," high carbon material.  Alternate them with with regular green materials (such as vegetable scraps, weeds,  and grass clippings), turn the pile every once in awhile, and in the spring you'll have a nice finished compost.

Alternatively, you could use your leaves as an organic mulch.  Just add a two to three inch layer of shredded leaves (you can shred them with your lawn mower) to your flower beds.  Be sure to keep them from directly touching the stems and trunks of your plants.  This mulch will limit weeds, keep your soil moist, and as they break down and worms and microorganisms work on them they'll result in a lighter fluffier soil.

Sadly, here at Fitzgerald's Family Farm we don't have enough trees to get a decent pile of leaves.  We sit on what used to be potato fields and our trees aren't mature enough to drop any significant amounts.  Even if the trees were mature enough, we tend to get a lot of wind here and the leaves all blow away!

Luckily the our town collects leaves and is happy to drop them off for free at your house.  Everyone in town rakes their leaves to the curb and a truck comes along and sucks them up.  I get a couple of big loads each year.  The two loads I have sitting outside will go into the high tunnels for mulch - to keep the pathways weed free - and into the compost enclosure for next year's gardens.  

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