Autumn Gold For The Garden
Updated: Sep 1, 2022
By local Hawthorn resident Kay Wennagel.
Glenferrie has the most beautiful tree-lined streets, but as the foliage from these trees turns brown in autumn, they become gold for your garden.
If you have deciduous trees you know how many autumn leaves fall to the ground to be continually swept up and gotten rid of. Why not use those leaves for your garden? It is the simplest and cheapest way of fertilising your soil, as up to 80% of a tree’s nutrients are in the leaves. They are full of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which is why they are often called Nature’s Nutrient Recyclers. If you shred the leaves they decompose faster and the simplest way of doing this is by running the lawn mower over them. Once the leaves are broken down, you have a number of choices as to where to use the shredded leaves:
Add Leaf Mulch To Your Garden
This will help to keep your soil and plant roots insulated over winter. Covering bare soil, such as unused vegetable patches or fruit trees, will protect the soil from heavy rains and winds that may erode the soil and leach out important nutrients.
Put Them In Your Compost
Composting is another way to keep the goodness of autumn leaves in your garden. They are beneficial to compost due to the amount of carbon they contain. Pile up your leaves (preferably shredded) and add other compostable materials, such as fruit, vegetables and lawn clippings and let them sit during winter. Turning the compost makes it decompose even faster.
Make Leaf Mould
Collect the leaves on your lawn and pack them into a storage area which will speed up the decomposition process. Leaf mould is produced through a cooler and much slower fungal- driven process whereas compost is a hot, bacteria-driven process. The resulting decomposed material is an excellent additive to soil.
Even if you don’t have deciduous trees, you may have a neighbour or friend who will happily bag their leaves for you. Otherwise you can rake up the fallen leaves on the footpaths, laneways and roads in your neighbourhood. The neighbours will love you and may even reward you for your efforts. We have even had a beer with some! The dried leaves are so easy and fun to work with and the kids and dogs love playing amongst them.