In smaller pieces, leaves break down quickly to dispense their trace minerals to feed beneficial microbes and earthworms in the soil. You can use a garden blower that converts to a shredder and shred as many leaves as you have time and energy to reduce. You can use them to top dress your beds and get a cheap winter cover for your garlic. The birds like to pick through the leaves to feast on insects and seeds when the ground isn’t frozen. Keep a trash bag of shredded leaves close to your compost bin to drop them from time to time: the carbon content will nicely balance the nitrogen in the compost.
Throughout the fall, shredded leaves can be stored in trash bags for use later on to insulate roses and other plants. Stash those bags in an out of the way place to use as mulch next spring when the garden thaws out. Shredded leaves become leaf mold which makes an attractive and beneficial mulch for your plants.
In the absence of a shredder, a lawn mower can do the same thing. Running it over the lawn several times will reduce the leaves into smaller pieces that won’t smother the lawn. Then you can either leave them there to feed the lawn or rake/blow them. At that point, they can go into the beds or the trash bags for storage.
The whole point is LEAVE THE LEAVES.
I’m thankful for the breeders and growers who continue to bring us newer and better plants each year. It’s astounding! It makes me wish for a bigger yard.
I’m thankful for all the retailers and mail-order companies who continue to produce and send those fabulous colorful catalogs. Poring over them during the winter and dreaming of next year’s garden sure helps to make the winter bearable.
I’m thankful for the garden supply companies who never fail to come up with amazing innovative products. They improve the gardening experience for young and old alike, especially for aging and physically challenged gardeners.
I’m thankful for my local garden centers. They create exciting displays every week and stock just the right flowers, veggies, and supplies at just at the right time. They are such cheerful places to visit.
I’m thankful for all the generous donors, Coast of Maine among them, who made our community garden such a success this year. Our dedicated team of volunteer master gardeners worked through all sorts of challenges to grow and donate over 750 pounds of organic produce to local area pantries and homeless shelters to feed those less fortunate.
I’m so thankful for the visitors to my garden. They seemed to be blind to all the weeds I didn’t pull and all the less than perfect plants that the insects and rabbits nibbled. They were so gracious!
I’m thankful for my husband who helps me in the garden, even when I tilt at windmills.
I’m thankful for our weather, despite its seesaw pattern, even our exceptional May 15 tornado. I learn something new each season from all of it, and it makes me a better gardener.
I’m thankful for readers. As a garden writer, what’s the point if no one reads what you write?
I’ll stop here and let you consider your own list of gratitudes of which I’m certain there are many. The best of Thanksgiving holidays to you!
Written by: Lorraine Ballato, garden writer and author of Success With Hydrangeas, A Gardener’s Guide.