Leave the Leaves

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Leaves are a great source of nutrients and minerals.  Up to 80% of a tree’s nutrients and minerals end up in its leaves. With a little effort, you have a perfect way of getting these valuable nutrients and minerals back into your soil.  Not only are the leaves a free source of nutrients but they also decrease the money needed for mulch and hummus.

Oak trees are typically the last to drop their leaves, usually during the first week in December, so now is the perfect time for a last lawn and garden workday before winter really sets in.  There are several options.  Rake leaves into your beds over the winter to protect the soil and plant roots from heavy rains and winds.  Make a circular container from chicken wire, put in whole leaves, and dampen to make leaf mold for spring use.  Leave them in place and run over them with a lawnmower.  Or add the shredded leaves to a compost pile with a bit of high nitrogen content material.

Leaves from ash, maple, fruit tree, poplar, and willow will typically break down in about a year. Leaves from beech, oak, and holly take longer. Avoid using leaves of black walnut and eucalyptus as these plants contain natural herbicides that will prevent seeds from germinating.