Use Autumn’s Bounty To Improve Your Soil

I know I have been posting quite a bit about gardeningAutumn tree - orange and red Chinese pistachio April 2013 recently, but this is because autumn is a busy time in the garden.

The main reason for this is because you are doing the last of the warm-season gardening while preparing your garden for the coming cold.

Today’s post is about a longer-term project.

It’s about something that can only be done in autumn and early winter.

And it can be done as slowly and gradually as you want…or you can put in a big, quick effort.

In my Soiled Rotten! post, I mentioned that you don’t need to buy and then cart home expensive supplements.

You recycle organic matter that you have at hand.

And, if you live in an area that grows deciduous trees, autumn provides a bounty.

If you have deciduous trees in your garden, you can just let the leaves lie where they have fallen…where they will form an organic mulch and gradually be incorporated into the soil…just like in a natural forest.  (To avoid slipping, though, you should remove fallen leaves from paths – and then you can use them as extra mulch or in compost.

When you are out walking, notice the amount of fallen Autumn leaves in street gutter April 2013leaves lying around that you can gather for FREE…and maybe do your community a little service too…by stopping paths from being slippery with wet leaves or by reducing the leaves in gutters where they can block drains or have to be swept up by your municipal authorities.

(By the way, did you notice the green grass in the picture?
I only used this photo because the contrast shows the leaves in the gutter better ;)…most of the grass around here is pretty brown because it’s been so dry.)

You can take along some basic equipment to help you gather leaves on your walk.

A sturdy plastic shopping bag and tough gardening gloves (or leaf claws or a trowel) are very easy to take with you…and (unless they see you gathering leaves) people will think you have been shopping (which you have – from nature’s ‘shop’)!  This is how I gather leaves when I’m walking our dog.

If you want to be a bit more efficient in your gathering, you can use a wheelbarrow and rake. Leaf claws are helpful for getting the leaves into the wheelbarrow and then holding them down so they don’t blow away.  And gloves keep your hands warm and clean. 😉

This is how I help out some elderly neighbours at the end of autumn : they get their leaves raked and I get the surplus for my garden.

I take my dog along too.  He loves it because he gets some extra (short) walks and ‘new’ gardens to explore.  I just loop the end of his lead over the barrow handle and that keeps him under control while I gather the leaves.

I have found that gathering autumn leaves in this way has been a win-win-win situation:

  • I win by getting organic mulch and exercise – for free.  (In fact, gathering leaves from community spaces for use at home was one of the features that was deliberately built into Canberra from the beginning!)
  • My neighbours win by getting their leaves raked for free.
  • My community wins by getting safer paths well ahead of when the municipal workers are scheduled to clean the paths.
  • And my dog has a much more interesting few months!

It’s a great way to get to know your neighbourhood better and strengthen your community too. 🙂

I’d love to hear what you think about this.  Leave your comments in the Reply box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!