Autumn Leaves A lot To Be Desired ~ Again


It’s that time of year and the gardener’s gold must be gathered in. And so whenever I go up to the allotment, taking stuff for the compost bins, I then head up the lane to the woods behind the plots. Until recently the fallen leaves have been rain-sodden, but with a few rainless days they’ve dried off a bit and a bag full no longer weighs a tonne. Ideally too, the leaves should have the mower run over them before storing. This speeds up decomposition. You can also add grass mowings and comfrey leaves.

But whatever you do with them, they do take a long time to make proper leaf mould for seed sowing purposes – 2- 3 years probably. On the other hand if you only want compost for mulching winter beds, then they are good to go in less than 12 months. I stored mine in rolls of fence wire, pegged to the ground to make small silos. This year I’ve also bought some jute leaf sacks. The jute will eventually rot and be composted, but in the meantime the leaf sacks can be stored in shed and polytunnel.

No one else at the allotment gathers leaves, although when I mention the subject they all agree it’s a good idea. Then after a pause they usually say ‘ah, but they take so long to rot down.’ To which my first and last riposte is, well the sooner you start collecting them, the sooner this ceases to be an issue. And yes, I can see it might seem a touch eccentric to go scrabbling round in the woods but hey, last year’s leaf compost has now made a nice thick mulch for the strawberries, raspberries and young asparagus plants. So thank you trees – oak, beech, field maple, sycamore and bird cherry – and never fear, this year I’m still leaving you plenty of leaves for your own personal use.


20 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves A lot To Be Desired ~ Again

  1. Lovely photos Tish. I want to reach in and grab handfuls of them just to feel the crunch 🙂
    This year is the first time I’ve collected leaves for mulch (after reading your posts about it for a few years) and I’m a convert. So thank you!!

  2. The leaves that fall from the trees in our garden remain where they fall and the soil underneath is the best on the property.
    Been raining for the past three days. Right now its midday and the entire valley is still enshrouded in mist. If there is anything that brings on a twinge of homesickness this weather is it.

    The veggies have reacted as if on steroids!

    1. just been looking at your veggies. You can almost hear them growing – even from here. Am just conjuring your under-leaf soil now. I know what that feels and smells like. Aaaaah!
      Do you get veg-guzzling snails and slugs after rain? I know the African land snails are monsters but do they keep themselves to themselves?

      1. We had a spate of snails a couple of years ago, but nothing since, and I’ve never seen a slug in the garden.
        Maybe the birds have them?

      2. Good point about the birds. We seem to be lacking in slug-eating birds. And snail-eating thrushes are quite a rare sight these days too, which is v. sad.

      3. The Olive Thrush is a regular at our spot and the Hadeda Ibis, too, with its foraging patrols.
        Argus bemoans the lack of birdlife as well.
        I guess it is all about creating the right environment and they will arrive.
        We use no pesticides of any kind and thus several of the fruit trees are a huge buffet for visitors!
        We donpt always get a full crop from the veggies, but we get enough.

      4. Our garden borders industrial agriculture which is one possible cause. Slug pellets apparently helped to reduce thrushes. We also have quite a number of hunting cats around us. Street lighting has also been recently identified as a major cause of reduced insect life and we have awful light pollution in our end of Wenlock. Our garden birdlife is mostly pigeons, a few sparrows, a couple of blackbirds and the odd robin and wren.

  3. I always rake ours up and put ’em back around the roots of the trees from whence they came, it’s only fair. 😀 … any leftovers, of which there’s always some, goes on top of the nearest garden.

    I tend to get a bit of an eye-twitch when the neighbours set theirs on fire. I yearn to render their idiotic hearts from their living bodies, but Mrs bravely restrains me. 😀

    1. Ah good on Mrs Bravely – with your best interests at heart, despite the infuriating daftness of others, which I fully understand. I like your top dressing of tree roots though. Just the job.

    1. My gardens thank you, Lisa. Actually, I’m thinking there’s actually a very serious side to this. We saw a wildlife film last night that included a sequence on the peat moorlands in the Baltic being industrially mined to provide Western European gardeners with peat for their gardens. The commentary then said that the people of the Baltic would not dream of using peat on their gardens, but made their own compost. If all gardeners composted leaves, or the local authorities who sweep them up (and there’s enough of them blowing about), then there would be no need to pillage precious peat bogs that store carbon.

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