As the season changes, so do our gardens. When the last vegetables are harvested and the leaves are starting to turn, it’s time to consider closing down your garden for the year. Like your patio furniture and other summer elements, your garden will want a little TLC to have it ready for the spring.
'When fall changes to winter so do our gardens. They will need a little TLC to be ready for spring.'Click To Tweet
Nutrients falling from the sky
Your garden will want its nutrients replenished from all the hard work it’s done over the summer growing veggies. While you can go out and purchase an additive, why spend your money when the perfect compost will literally fall from the sky?
Leaves provide an incredible source of mineral-rich, organic material to compost. While many people complain about raking, only to throw the bounty away, the clever gardener will start the process of breaking down those piles of leaves to make rich, healthy compost material that will feed your lawn and garden and make for beautiful, healthy landscaping that will transform the look and health of your land.
While it’s easy to lay your hands on leaves, creating compost from them requires a bit more ingenuity than just leaving them in a mass on your lawn. Leaves, in their abundance, are often the foundation of many beginner composters’ pile, but they will require some finessing to get to the stage you’re hoping for without waiting a few seasons to have it happen.
When to start collecting
You should start collecting your leaves as soon as they start falling from the trees. This is the point of which they contain the most nitrogen and when the leaves will still be in the best condition for healthy decomposition. Letting the leaves sit will allow them to mat together and create a thick, dense layer that will not allow air or water to pass through to facilitate decomposition.
Keep in mind that leaves with less lignin—the material that makes up the cell walls of the leaves—make better composting leaves. These include maple, willow, poplar, elm, and more. Avoid leaves from birch, magnolia, oak, and sweet chestnut, since these resist decomposition.
How to go from leaf to compost
To give your leaves the best possible chance of becoming the rich, black soil you crave, you’ll need to prep your leaves. Do this by shredding the leaves until they are borderline mulch. Run your lawnmower over the leaves while they are laid out in a thin layer to shred them. Make sure the layer is thin enough that your mower doesn’t struggle. Also, make sure your leaves are fluffy and dry since wet leaves will glom onto your mower’s blades and make a big mess.
Not just leaves
As much as leaves are an incredible nutrient source and do make great compost, it’s important to help it along by also adding in some manure or grass clippings. This adds a good source of Nitrogen to your leaf pile, which will get your compost pile hot and cooking. Use a 5 to 1 ratio for this: for every five wheelbarrows of shredded leaves, add one bag of manure or grass clippings. Be sure to keep turning it throughout the season to facilitate good mixing.
When fall changes to winter. how do you prep your garden to be ready for spring.
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