...Glorious, Wonderful, Leaves
Carolyn Herriot, respected BC Master Gardener, photographer, and lecturer, dedicates a page in her book, 'A Year On The Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide' to leaves. Here are some of her 'Leafy Tips'.
- Large trees such as oaks, maples, sycamores and chestnuts are wonderful sources of nutrient-rich leaves.
- Store leaves in fall for layering into compost throughout the year. TIP: A circular cage of fencing wire, or four posts wrapped with chicken wire, is a simple space-saving way to store leaves.
- A heap of leaves will break down into a pile of rich, crumbly leaf mulch in one year (faster if you turn the pile). Shallow-rooted plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, pieris, skimmia and heathers just LOVE leaf mulch.
- Don't position leaf piles under trees or hedges where fibrous roots will grow into the pile. TIP: If you must, put landscape fabric down first as a barrier.
- To reduce a pile of leaves, spread them out on a driveway and run a lawn mower over the pile. It will reduce to a 1/10th of its volume, and can then be sprinkled onto beds, where leaves will quickly break down into the soil.
- If you have pine trees, compost the pine needles separately. they take up to three years to rot down, but produce an acidic leaf mould that is excellent for ericaceous (acid-loving) plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, pieris, hydrangeas, blueberries, heathers, and camellias.
- Don't save leaves showing signs of disease, such as rust, black spot or mildew, since pathogens present may survive. Dig a hole and bury them in the garden, where microbes will get to work destroying them.
- Avoid shiny, waxy leaves, such as arbutus. They are slow to break down due to a waxy cuticle.
|caged leaves |
image from The Modern Victory Garden