Every year in autumn, gardeners get down to rake dead leaves as they fall … an ultra time consuming activity. This represents a considerable volume and many gardening enthusiasts make tireless shuttles to the local recycling center to get rid of it. It’s a shame, because they represent a gold mine. So let’s stop wasting them! Here is a little spotlight on the four uses current dead leaves which, in autumn, are collected with a shovel …
1 – Transform dead autumn leaves into potting soil
If until now the management of dead leaves throughout the fall was an ordeal, it should quickly become a real pleasure for gardeners. The reason is simple: they naturally turn into potting soil. It is enough for that to rake them when they are wet because it is easier then, ideally, to go to the shredder (the mower is perfect for this) before storing them in a corner of the garden.
When they have dried well, they can be locked in bags with a few holes in them. All you have to do is let nature take its course. Within 8 to 12 months, the dead leaves will decompose and turn into a excellent soil which can be used when the planting season is in full swing.
Note that we can create a compost of dead leaves specifically adapted to heather earth plants. It must be acidic. For this, leaves rich in tannins are selected, which is the case with beech or oak leaves.
2 – Enrich a compost with dead leaves
The leaves that litter the ground in autumn can perfectly be added to different organic waste that we throw in the composter. This hodgepodge of materials will gradually transform into compost, a famous fertilizer for use in vegetable gardens, orchards and ornamental gardens. It is still necessary to know the origin of these leaves to be sure that the compost obtained is suitable for the plants concerned.
3 – Turn dead leaves into mulch
When raked, dried and then crushed, fallen autumn leaves are an ideal mulch. We can therefore deposit a layer of about ten centimeters in flower beds, flower beds, at the foot of rosebushes, isolated trees and shrubs or in hedges …
Many gardeners particularly invested in the recycling of plant waste make up their homemade mulch of dead leaves and lawn clippings. It’s a very good idea. There are even some who, once the mulching is complete, deposit a little rock powder on this protective mat.
4 – Protect potted plants against the ravages of cold
Fallen leaves are a gift from nature that plants grown in pots can also benefit from. They indeed need to be protected against freezing. If we have a room for wintering them, that’s perfect. But that’s not always the case.
We then take care to deposit a layer of sand on the surface of the substrate, to place tubs, planters and pots of all kinds in a corner well sheltered from cold winds and then caulk them as best we can, for example with old boards. It remains to fill in all the spaces with the dead leaves that we have previously put to dry. It is also necessary to place a layer of it on the pots in order to hide the foot of the plants.
Dead leaves constitute a effective coverage which protects the roots of plants as well as the containers, the latter being liable to be damaged by severe frost if we are not careful.
Using dead leaves: the advantages
Finally, the recycling of fallen autumn leaves is useful on many levels. This allows:
- Of save money since we reduce the purchase of bags of potting soil, fertilizers and mulch of all kinds,
- Of pay less fuel because it is no longer necessary to go to the recycling center to get rid of dead leaves,
- Of reduce your carbon footprint. Indeed, if all gardeners cleverly used their dead leaves, it would considerably reduce the unnecessary round trips by car or van between their garden and the recycling point. A pharaminous number of tons of CO2 at stake!
the raking dead leaves is essential. One might be tempted to leave this pretty rug on the grass, but it’s far from a good idea because it would quickly suffocate. This is also without taking into account the risk of the proliferation of harmful insects and fungal diseases.
It is still important to take some precautions so that the use of dead leaves in the garden only brings benefits. Leaves of diseased trees must be burned. Using them as mulch, compost or potting soil would only contaminate the plants. As for dead leaves from beech or oak for example, they are not suitable for aromatic plants and should not be used in the vegetable garden either because the acidity level of this compost is too high. Rhododendrons, camellias and other hydrangeas, on the other hand, appreciate it.