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Autumn Leaves

leaves collected in string sack ready for mulch

I love the fitful gusts that shakes
The casement all the day
And from the mossy elm tree takes
The faded leaf away
Twirling it by the window-pane
With a thousand others down the lane
John Clare

Although the task of clearing leaves may not be amongst the top 10 favourite gardening jobs it is necessary. Left on the lawn leaves will cause the grass to turn yellow and if left laying thickly on beds and borders will choke plants and cause them to rot. You don’t want them in the pond either as the leaves will rot, creating poisonous gases so it’s best to drape netting over the pond for protection.

Clearing the leaves takes time and depending on the number of trees in and around your garden may seem a never-ending task but there are benefits:

 – Raking is a great form of exercise. It reduces the heart rate, improves fitness and warms you up nicely.

– Leaf mould is a great free material to help with improving your soil structure.

– Leaf mould that has been left for 2 years makes good compost.

– Your lawn will look so much nicer once it’s been cleared of fallen leaves!

Chose a dry still day to gather your leaves. If you don’t fancy the physical workout of raking then leaves can be collected using a rotary mower or a leaf blower (noisy but effective).

Once collected the leaves can be stored in a compost bin made from chicken wire or simply put in bags and sacks, tied loosely and stored in a hidden corner somewhere in the garden. Black bin bags are fine as long as you make a few holes in places or you can use special biodegradable leaf sacks as pictured above.

After 1 year leaf mould can be used as a mulch or soil improver. Just scatter it on the soil and leave the work to the worms or fork lightly.

After 2 years your leaf mould can be sieved and used as seed-sowing compost or mixed with garden compost for filling tubs and pots.

With no carbon footprint and no cost leaf mould is a great bonus to the garden and the gardener. So maybe, like John Clare in his poem Autumn, we should rejoice in those fitful gusts that send the leaves twirling down the lane – and into our gardens.


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