Fall has arrived, and that means it’s time to use those gorgeous falling leaves to help recharge your garden. Collecting leaves each fall has become a ritual for us. It is a simple, inexpensive (actually free), and excellent way to provide valuable organic nutrients to your garden.

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The beauty of Fall is also a beautiful sight for gardeners

And in the fall – leaves are abundant! Even if you don’t have a supply in your own backyard, you usually don’t have to look far to find them free for the taking. Here are 3 great ways to use those falling leaves in your garden this fall: 

Turn Those Leaves Into Great Compost

Leaves are the perfect choice for creating a great fall compost pile! And making compost this fall means you will have plenty of “black gold” on hand for planting time next spring!

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Making compost in the fall is easy with the power of the falling leaf!

When composting, remember that some varieties are better than others. Ash, Beech, Maple and the leaves of fruit trees are excellent choices to compost. Oak can be used, but in moderation. The leaf of an Oak tree is more acidic, and too many can result in compost that is less than ideal for your vegetable garden.  A good rule of thumb – keep the ratio of oak under 20%, and you should be good to go.

Always be sure to shred your leaves before using in a compost pile. Whole leaves bind together and become a soggy, matted mess. Because of that, they can take months if not years to break down. Shredding first can greatly speed up the entire process from start to finish.

No need to purchase a fancy shredder. A push or riding mower will do an excellent job of shredding leaves into a finely chopped mix.   See : 4 Simple Tips To Make Great Leaf Compost

Creating A Cover Crop With Fall’s Bounty

If your garden doesn’t already have a cover crop, then create a natural one with a thick layer of leaves. Just like a planted cover crop, a thick coating can keep your garden soil from being exposed to harsh winter rains, snow and wind. Without protection, that exposure can whisk away the top layer of your valuable top soil.

Covering your garden also helps tremendously in cutting down on the amount of next seasons’ weeds. Covering your garden soil makes it hard for blowing and drifting seeds to find a home. When next spring arrives, you can simply shred them with your mower and incorporate into your soil.

Shred And Store For Next Year

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We store extra leaves in our homemade corn crib bin in the garden

While you are out there collecting – be sure to get enough to use next year as well! Along with the compost bins in the back of our garden, we keep a small storage area just for shredded leaves. That way, we have plenty on hand next year to use as a mulch around young plants, or to create more compost.

So get outside, collect fall’s bounty, and enjoy the beauty of autumn! To receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. You can also check out our new book, Growing Simple, now available onAmazon.com. 

Jim and Mary



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3 thoughts on “How To Use Autumn’s Falling Leaves To Power Next Year’s Garden!

  • October 8, 2016 at 9:39 pm
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    When “collecting leaves” from neighbors or land that you do not own – are you concerned if the leaves are from a tree where the grass has been sprayed with chemicals? Does this interfere with your organic gardening practices ? What are your thoughts on this? Thank you for your blog and all of your advice.

  • October 7, 2016 at 9:17 am
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    Oak leaves are GREAT weed control leaves. Nothing wants to grow under them. Our Oak tree is at the front of our garden and the leaves have “placed” themselves in the crevices between the garden fence and what’s left of an old barn foundation. We NEVER have weeds grow in those areas and the leaves last for years. I now intentionally use oak leaves (whole) as weed control in other areas bordering our garden (but never IN the garden).

    • October 7, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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      My house is surrounded by huge oaks, they are by far the majority species. can I use the oak leaves for mulch in the garden if I add some lime to counterbalance the acidity?

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