Allen Wilson is a Vancouver gardening expert. Email Allen Wilson at [email protected]
My friend states I should use leaves to enhance my soil. How do leaves improve the soil?
In all my years of experience in gardening, I have found out that the single most important way to enhance garden efficiency is to add organic matter to the soil. The greater the portion of organic matter, the much better plants grow. Raw material opens the soil so it can breathe. The crumbly texture is simple to work, damp or dry. Water and air flow into and through the soil quickly. As the raw material is broken down it releases nutrition aspects.
Why not make the most of the totally free organic matter falling from trees this time of year to improve the soil? I run the lawn mower over leaves on the lawn to slice them and pick them up. A lot the better when turf clippings are blended with the leaves. I rake or blow leaves from around shrubs and trees and then slice them up with my mower. This slicing into fine pieces considerably decreases the volume. Most lawns have an area where the sliced leaves can be piled over winter to partially decay.
If you don’t have an open space, spread the chopped up leaves over the vegetable garden and yearly flower beds. Then after the plants are through growing utilize your lawn mower to slice them up too. Add coffee grounds and veggie trimmings from the cooking area. Spread out a little lawn fertilizer over whatever and spray with water. After a winter season of decomposition, the chopped up plants and leaves are all set to use as a mulch for trees and shrubs. Or they can be immediately tilled into the soil.
Years earlier, when I had actually recently moved into a home which was only partly landscaped, I offered to rake and eliminate leaves for all my next-door neighbors. That time I spread them over the soil a number of inches deep and immediately tilled them into the soil. That effort paid off for years afterward. Whenever I would move a plant or install a brand-new one, the soil was simple to work. Everything I planted grew well.