Leaf Mulch; Autumn’s Free Compost
With trees resigned to the fact that autumn is indeed here and the time for dropping leaves has arrived, I’m now knee deep in foliage wherever I go. It’s an iconic time of year – kicking rustling piles of leaves through the streets, watching a leaf plucked from it’s branch spiral towards the ground, seeing the vivid greens of summer change to fiery reds, yellows and oranges.
I don’t actually mind clearing leaves as there’s always something calming about gently raking or sweeping piles of foliage together before bundling it into bags. If your council is like mine then they’ve irrationally stopped green waste collections at probably the worst time of year, and you’ve got more bags than you know what to do with. A few leaves can remain on beds where the worms will pull them down into the soil, but the majority of lawn and border material should be collected. The compost is climbing towards the sky, there’s more garden waste every day and there’s only so much pruned planting that you can handle. However, there’s a great way to utilise your trees dispelled leaves and that’s by making some nutrient rich leaf mulch for next year.
Making leaf mulch really couldn’t be simpler, and you can do it even if you don’t have a compost heap which is a huge bonus to many people. I always try and make at least three or four bags of the stuff at each clients house as it’s a great cost saving method of getting nutrient rich compost for your plants next year without having to head to the garden centre and stock up on feed. All you need do is pile leaves into black bin liners, tie them shut and leave them for six months or so. Try to ensure that leaves are moist as, if they’re bone dry like my first attempts years ago, you’ll unwrap them next spring to discover, well, dry leaves. If however they’re slightly moist the bacteria present on the foliage will rot the leaves down in their closed environment, offering you a beautiful and loamy mulch to use on borders and pots next year.
If you can’t handle the rising tide of leaves and your council have unhelpfully left you collection-less, then a few moments is all it takes to start the free compost creating cycle. And in six months time you’ll already be benefiting from this years tree drop off.