They’re out there and they are falling. Leaves. What do we do with them?
When I was a boy, Daddy would rake them to the edge of the curb and burn them. So did everybody else. October in Lewisburg carried the enchanting smell of burning leaves for much of the month.
The question today is what to do with leaves. Namely, do you put them in a backyard garden – assuming you have a garden.
There are pros and cons.
The cons? They are somewhat of an eyesore or so says my wife Nancy, and – without nitrogen – they can upset the chemical balance of a garden.
But the pros are overwhelmingly in favor of putting leaves into a garden spot or a flower bed.
Here’s what those who know what they are talking about (not me) have to say.
Leaves are packed with trace minerals that trees have drawn up from the depths of the soil. If you add leaves to a garden they feed earthworms and the beneficial microbes in the soil. They also lighten the otherwise heavy soil and help sandy soils retain moisture. Leaves also insulate tender plants from the cold.
But if you don’t shred the leaves, they can pack down and prevent the soil from getting needed moisture and air.
Rake and spread some leaves in your garden or beds, and then run the lawnmower (without the bag) over them. That helps break down the leaves into usable chemicals quickly.
A final note. If you add shredded leaves directly to the soil, add some slow-release nitrogen fertilizers to help the leaves decompose and to ensure that soil microbes don’t use all of the available nitrogen.