Another Great Hack For Leading An Eco-Friendly Sustainable Lifestyle
Have you ever taken a look at the ground when walking through your favorite forest, backwoods trail, or meadow? You’ll probably have noticed that the soil is a deep, rich dark brown color with sweet earthy notes wafting up to your nostrils. This is nature’s compost that is made from all the naturally occurring forest detritus, which includes an abundance of fallen leaves. With this thought in mind, you might look at the dusting of tree leaves across your yard in a different light. There is a literal gardener’s gold mine at your fingertips. To put it simply, those fall leaves have great value. If mother nature makes her nutrient-dense forest soil this way, let’s follow her example and put these wonderful free resources of autumn leaves to good use.
The Incredible Benefits of Fall Leaves
As you most likely do not spray the trees in your yard or surrounding property with pesticides, right off the bat you now have access to 100% organic composting and gardening matter. Once you learn about the many advantages of dead leaves, that raking job will no longer look like tedious yard work. Fallen leaf benefits are:
- Rich in minerals that have been brought up from deep in the subsoil to the surface. This organic matter improves soil structure.
- They are a dense source of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
- A large tree of leaves is equal to about $40 worth of plant food.
- Better than manure! Side by side, leaves contain twice the mineral content.
- To lighten heavy clay soils add some leaf humus.
- To hold moisture in dry or sandy soil, add leave compost.
- Being a source of carbon, leaf compost will balance the nitrogen in a compost pile.
- Leaves act as a food source for microbes and earthworms (all elements of healthy soil).
- Can be used as a pretty mulch in flower gardens.
- Piles of leaves act as insulation for plants during cold spells.
TIP: Want leaves but don’t have access to any? Check with your local community gardens which usually encourage residents to bring their bags of leaves to add to compost piles.
What To Do With Dead Leaves
Most of the tips are all focused on feeding the soil. Because our country’s farmlands have been stripped of so many nutrients, much of the produce we buy is no longer as full of vitamins and minerals as it used to be. Thus the incentive to grow your food is stronger than ever. And by using the free resources you already have, in a very short period of time and with little monetary investment, you could be filling your table week after week with homegrown goodness. So, no more plastic garbage bags of leaves tossed into the millions of trash heaps across our country. It’s time to turn over a new leaf and get started making soil ready to feed yourself, your family, your friends, or your local community!
With your produce scraps and some autumn leaves you are on your way to making delicious home compost. It is truly satisfying to witness what was once thought of as a garage turn into the foundation for a food-hardy garden.
- Composting basics are simple pretty simple.
- With this resource from Earth911, you can build a compost bin in a weekend..
Mulch For Flowers & Veggies
Leaf litter doesn’t need to be composted to be absorbed and to be a beneficial ingredient to your flower beds and vegetable gardens.
- Leave an opening for your crop to sprout and spread leaves all over the rest of your plant beds. You can pile the leaves up to four inches deep to make a cozy
- For a winter blanket to protect plant roots, add about a four-inch pile.
TIP: Crush leaves with a lawn mover to make a finer mixture so they won’t blow off garden beds. Or you can water the plants over the cold periods and the leaves will decay.
Mulch For Lawns
If you simply mow over all the fallen leaves on your lawn, you’ll actually be creating a good source of food for your lawn. Give it try, you’ll be happily surprised!
Root Vegetable Storage
- If you practice storing your root vegetable crops through the winter (such as in a cool basement), dry autumn leaves are great insulation for keeping the produce fresh all season long.
- The same goes if your root veggies are still in the ground; with proper leaf coverage you can harvest through the winter spell.
Our earth’s pollinators love a good cozy hangout for winter and piles of dead leaves make ideal housing for these critters.
- Snails, butterflies, bees, moths, snails, spiders, and many other arthropods take cover from the cold and from predators in this debris.
- A queen bumble bee will burrow about two inches into the ground to hibernate for winter, while she relies on leaf refuse to keep her insulated.
- Have you ever seen a butterfly cocoon disguised as a dry leaf? They are quite ingenious in this way and stay protected as they hibernate as well through the winter.
The ruby red, fiery oranges, saucy yellows, juicy violets, and earthy browns are all the kaleidoscope of colors your autumn leaves fill. Catch some of these gorgeous gems when at their color peaks and perverse them for home decorating projects during the autumn season.
- Collect any fallen branches, place them in a large pot or vase and add a strand of mini twinkle lights.
- Iron individual leaves between sheets of wax paper to seal and protect them. Once frozen in time, you can now do many artsy projects with those leaves -punch holes to hang and make a garland; cut out and drape onto wood branches, or just use fresh colorful leaves spread down a table runner for a seasonal centerpiece.
Hopefully, you are looking at those piles of autumn leaves in a different light now. Who knew they were such a rich resource of nutrients for us, our soil, our flowers, and our gardens? By using them for composting, soil-enriching, and other nature-enhancing projects, not only are we keeping free quality material out of landfills but we’re also taking part in a sustainable process that helps our entire ecosystem.
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