Posted on 23 February 2013 by urbangardencasual.com

3 Ways of Using Fall Leaves in the Garden

Photo Credit: Fallen Leaves by Brian Richardson used under CC BY 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

I hate to waste anything and that includes leaves.

Every year around this time, I see bags of potential black gold sitting beside trashcans.

How sad this makes me when I know that all it takes is a little effort to change trash into treasure.

If you are faced with this dilemma this fall season, consider trying one of this alternative approaches when it comes to fall leaves.

1. Compost.
Chopped up leaves are great additions to any composting program. They add the much need carbon that many composting bins lack during the summer months. To utilize this technique, do not add the leaves all at one time. This will shock the delicate system. Instead, add a handful every time you add kitchen scrapes to the pile. Utilizing this approach will help to create a more balanced composting system, which in turn will speed up decomposition.

2. Bedding for worms. Red wigglers love dried up dead leaves. As above add a handful of the leaves every time you add kitchen scraps to the bin.

3. Mulch for the garden. Ground up leaves make great mulch for the vegetable and flower garden alike. It helps control weeds, adds organic material to the soil, and provides an insulating factor that can be used to protect tender perennials. When using this approach, make sure not to bury your plant material too deep. Three to four inches is enough to protect the plant material without killing it.

If you do not have trees or live in an apartment, do not despair. Many people will give away their ground up leaves, if you just ask. As a matter of fact, I have some neighbors that will tour the neighborhood looking for the telltale brown bags sitting beside garbage cans. When these are found, they are retrieved for future use.

So until we blog again, while the colors of summer may fade, the organic makeup of the change in seasons can still be captured in the form of black gold.

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