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.
I visit friends who are fortunate to have trees in their garden 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.
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.
Besides the exercise and fresh air of raking the fall leaves, they have multiple uses in your garden.
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.