A few days ago I worked at spreading some more leaves around the vegetable gardens to use as a layer of mulch.
Any leaves that fall in our yard get run over by the lawn mower and mulched back into the yard. We don’t have a lot of trees dropping a lot of leaves, so I look to get leaves for other people. I have been known to stop and pick up leaves when people bag them and put them at the curb for garbage pick up.
Our neighbors have been collecting other peoples leaves for many years. They use the leaves in their vegetable garden and other places around the property for mulching. This year they have even had a two guys that have lawn service companies drop their leaves at the house instead of taking them to the dump. It is a win-win situation. The lawn service guy doesn’t have to pay to dump his load and my neighbors benefit from the extra leaves.
I have been able to benefit from this too. All the bagged leaves that I have picked up have already been used. When I tilled up a new garden section this winter I added leaves and tilled them all under into the ground so they could start breaking down and lightening the thick clay soil up before I planted things this spring. When my leave stash was gone I was able to go next door and pick up more leaves from my neighbors pile to use.
I am mainly using them to cover the ground around the vegetables and between rows to help keep the moisture in. As I dig kitchen scrapes into the garden beds around the veggies (called trench composting), the leaves are getting worked into the soil with the kitchen scraps. Right now, the compost tumbler is working its magic. I am not adding any addition food scraps to it right now. So right now all the kitchen scraps go directly into the garden where they can break down while the veggies grow.
I start in one raised bed and add as much to that bed until I run out of space before I move onto another raised bed. I am careful not to disturb the plants root.
Behind my yard cart you can see some of my southern peas growing. I don’t know the correct name of this pea. It isn’t a purple hull, but some other southern growing pea. My neighbors brought it back from Florida a few years ago and they let some of the pea pods dry to use as seeds. I used some of the seeds and liked the peas that they produced, so this is my second season growing them. They freeze well and I have added them to many soups. In between the rows of peas I have put leaves. They crunch right now when I walk on them, but they will start to break down and work their way into the ground. At some point I will sprinkle a little manure over the top to weigh them down a bit. That helps keep them in place and not blow away if we get a lot of wind. I have a nice pile of horse manure that has been sitting for four months. It has broken down well and will work great.