Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Fall leaves; a valuable free resource for your gardening projects. – November 8, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Leave, leaves everywhere.  This is an amazing free resource that you can be put to use in your vegetable and flower gardens over the growing season and coming winter.  These little gems can feed and protect your trees and bushes as well.

Leaves can be composted and added to your soil to improve its quality or can be used as mulch; an organic mixture of material used in gardens and landscaping to retain moisture, protect plants from the heat, cold and wind and to deter competing weeds from growing.  Whether the leaves will be used as compost or mulch it is recommended that the leaves be shredded with a lawn mower or other hardware designed for this purpose. The shredded leaves will decompose quicker if used in a compost pile or they will efficiently allow water to seep through to the soil if used as a mulch layer.

Using leave mulch is effective in the winter and summer.  Mulching around your perennial plants this time of the year will protect plants from frigid temperatures in the winter and will serve as protection from the elements in the summer.

Compost however is meant to be dug into the soil so as to deliver valuable nutrients to the medium, improve the water retention abilities of soils and aerate dense soil mixtures such as clay.  According to “the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure”.  Composting leaves can be easily accomplished by mixing your shredded leaves with a nitrogen supplement such as manure or blood meal.  Nitrogen is the ingredient that will heat up your compost pile and get the decomposing process moving forward.  The compost pile will also require water to keep the mixture moist but not soggy and air.  The air is introduced and kept in the mixture by turning the compost pile every few days or weeks.  The more the mixture is moved around, the faster the composting process will take place.  You may also wish to consider covering your compost pile so as to keep the heat in and the extra moisture out.

Decomposing our organic matter contributes greatly to extending the life of our land fills.  With a little bit of effort we can partner in this contribution while enriching our soil and providing a healthy environment for our plants.  If you are a visual learner, Google ‘you tube’ and check out one of the many learning visuals available on the subject.

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