In fall, it’s a time-honored tradition to rake fallen leaves into a big pile—but then what do you do (other than the ceremonious jumping in them)? Some municipalities will pick up any left on the curb and transport to a facility to make compost, which is then available to the public. While this is a great service, a wise gardener can put leaf litter to work in their own plot without having to get the city involved.
Rake up leaves from your and maybe your neighbor’s trees, and then pile them into windrows on the garden once you’ve put it to bed for the season. They will not only serve as a mulch but will break down into organic matter that will feed the soil. As much as 70 percent will decompose over the winter—and perhaps even more if you shred the leaves first.
When you’re ready to work the soil in the spring, simply rake back the leaf pile, do your cultivation work as desired, and then return the leaves back to place. After that, you can go about your planting as normal, allowing the leaves to continue to serve as a mulch.
When you think about all the things you have growing around you and how they can help further the circle of life in your garden, you’ll never feel like you’re short on resources again.