Fall Leaves

A Nutrient Rich Source of Organic Matter

One of my favorite things to do in the autumn is collect fall leaves – raking them and putting them in bags for transport is less a chore than a treat.

Fall Leaves

I visit friends who have trees and we’ll spend an enjoyable hour or two cleaning up natures seasonal bounty.

Leaving the fallen leaves on the lawn over the winter will deprive the grass of light and air, and weaken it.

The beauty of really old trees is that they have extensive root systems mining deep to obtain huge quantities of nutrients which are then conveniently dropped with the leaves as they die.

Composting the leaves of venerable old trees will provide a rich source of minerals and micronutrients.

The soil in your garden where you use this compost will also be filled with micorrhizae, a beneficial fungi.

Golden Fall Leaves

In many cases, the beautiful trees in your garden, though beloved, are a bit of a nuisance, dropping leaves and seed pods on a regular basis.

For those who have no trees, there is no downside, as the fall leaves are a valuable resource.

In my town, people leave their raked bags of leaves at the curbside for pickup - and it's not always the municipality that grabs them. 

With lots of old trees planted years ago, we'll never lack for composted leaf mold here.

My Favorite Uses for Fall Leaves

Besides the exercise and fresh air of raking the fall leaves, they have multiple uses in your garden.

  • Compost made with the leaves chopped finely with a weed whacker in a metal garbage can takes only until the spring to produce rich dark leaf mold.

  • Leaving the leaves whole will take longer to break down into compost, but if you add a few shovels of already matured compost to each bag, they’ll rapidly break down into compost right there in the bag, ready for use in the spring.
  • In the chicken pen, the chickens will scatter them to be mixed with old straw, grass clippings and other refuse to make the perfect mulch or compost.

  • I also retain a few bags of primo leaves, preferably dry and of the smaller types of leaves like birches or Manitoba maple. These are put against the Eggporeum for insulation, to be brought out during the coldest days and scattered for the hens to scratch in, and for deep litter mulch in their house.
Fall Leaves in bags make great insulation for compost bins
Fall Leaves benefit the compost

Mulching with leaves alone can sometimes make a sticky slippery mess, but letting the chickens mix them up first and get them started on the process of decomposing makes it possible to get a head start, as well as being safer to walk on.

Used as an ingredient in sheet composting fall leaves are an invaluable component due to their ability to shut off light and air to germinating weed seeds, effectively smothering them.

I hope you’ll start seeing fall leaves as a precious resource instead of a mess to be dealt with, and come up with your own ways to utilize them


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