Fall is here! Leaves are changing from green to rich, buttery yellow, vibrant magenta, and brilliant orange. Pumpkins and apples are ripe and ready for picking, and the air is redolent with smells of wood stoves and leaves decomposing. I love taking walks in the fall, the vibrant leaves crunching underfoot makes you feel as though you are walking on a rich tapestry of color.
This is also the time of year for leaf composting. Leaves can be wonderful for dormant flower beds and vegetable gardens, they add vital nutrients like carbon to balance the nitrogen in the compost pile. After raking your leaves, run them over with the lawnmower a few times to shred them into little pieces. Leaves need to be shredded finely for a few reasons. One, this allows air and water to penetrate the soil, instead of packing on a heavy layer which takes much longer to decompose. Second, it acts as insulator for tender shoots coming up in the spring. One of my favorite things to do on a warm spring day is gently lift up the leaf layer to see the shoots growing safely beneath. And third, it reduces the volume of leaves drastically.
Once you have your leaves shredded, bag some up and save them for spring. Over time, decomposing leaves turn into leaf mold which makes for a fantastic mulch for your perennials and annuals. Then take some to your vegetable beds and rototil them into the soil; this makes a nice, rich, dark soil which is perfect for growing hearty, delicious veggies.
So grab your rake and get busy shredding your leaves, and don’t forget to look up and see all of the wonderful colors all around you.