Thursday, 1 November 2012

Raking time - repeat

It's raking time again as my lawn is once more blanketed in leaves from the surrounding large trees.
Whilst cursing the futility of this task, remember that you are also removing slug hiding places and letting your plants get some fresh air.

Not only that, you are also collecting great material to return to your soil in six months time.  Put the leaves in black plastic bin bags, tie up, stab them with a fork (strangely therapeutic, worryingly) and then leave the bags somewhere out of sight (behind the shed, in the hedge bottom etc) for six months or so.  In late spring, open a bag and see how your leaf mould is progressing.  If it is dark and crumbly, add it to soil before planting. It doesn't contain a lot of nutrients but will help to bulk up your soil and improve the texture. Repeated addition of organic matter (compost, leaf mould, manure etc) will make your soil much easier to work - so keep on doing this year on year.

Making leaf-mould separately from your compost is better if you have large quantities of leaves because they tend to rot down more slowly than other stuff due to the tannins in them.  If you have the space, you can bash four wooden posts into the ground to form a square and then tie a length of chicken wire fencing around them.  My cubic metre holds an amazing amount of leaves both from my own garden and the school ground I tend - and there are plenty of leaves from both at this time of year. Mine is tucked away behind tall plants at the bottom of the garden, with a little brick path (just bricks laid on top of compacted soil, so it is easily moved/changed/relaid) leading to it. The dog leg path also makes this  wide border more accessible for working and provides a focal point when you get to the bottom of the garden as you want to know where it leads.

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