In Penny’s gardening blog – how to make use of those fallen autumn leaves



The leaves this autumn are spectacular. I don’t know about any of you, but I have a tendency to get a bit down towards the end of September. The nights drawing in, everything coming to an end in the garden and the thought of a long, cold, damp winter fills me with dread, gloom and doom.

But once the leaves have turned I force myself out of my sorry state of mind and there is nothing more cheery than a good walk in the local woods. I am lucky enough to live close to Hembury Woods, which skirt the River Dart and is full of many ancient trees. It is predominantly a western oak woodland with a wet alder wood in the valley. There are plenty of silver birch, beech, holly and hazel. The colours alone are so uplifting that the experience of walking amongst these trees really gets me into the spirit of autumn and winter, hot fires and chestnuts, big scarves, thick socks, woolly hats and all those sorts of things.


Leaf Mould

My point is there are lots of leaves falling off the trees at this time of year. Raking them up is a good idea and why not make some leaf mould which makes a great soil conditioner when left to rot over the winter and ready for the summer.

You don’t want to put leaves onto your compost heap as they are slow to rot down. If you have space, make a separate heap for leaves alone or otherwise a put them in a black plastic sack with holes punched in the bottom.

Some folk rake all the leaves onto the lawn first and then mow them up, which chops them up a bit. You can mix them with some lawn cuttings too to help speed up the rotting process a little. Either way is fine.

Put the leaves in heavy duty black bags. Once filled, pierce the bottom of the sacks and put them in a corner out of the way and by next summer you should have some good leaf mould. This is a great low nutrient soil conditioner and can be spread onto your flower or vegetable beds or added to pots and tubs. It will improve the structure of your soil.

Next gardening blog

I am going to give you tips on putting your gardens to bed for the winter and what you can do in your kitchen gardens to prepare for next year. I will also make suggestions on things to plant now for a spring display.

6 responses to “In Penny’s gardening blog – how to make use of those fallen autumn leaves

  1. Thanks Penny for informative and interesting blog.
    Lovely pics I’ll have to go for an explore there myself 🙂

  2. The leaves are falling fast here in Canada! Thanks for the great tips on composting leaves on your own property. We should do more of this to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient.

    Here in Halton Region (Ontario, Canada) most leaves are collected the municipality and composted ( PS, I loved the photos — makes we want to go hiking and enjoy the great outdoors!

    – John Watson, Waste Diversion Education Coordinator, Halton Region; TWITTER @HaltonRecycles

  3. I have piles of leaves blown over from next door and I get fed up sweeping them up – I now have bought some holey sacks and filling them for next year – I guess it will be ok to mix the rotted down leaves with compost for pots and tubs!

  4. Wonderful photo.

  5. There are some beautiful scenic pictures there. Thanks for sharing Penny.

  6. “Unlike Nursery Poly Bag biodegradable bags promote better drainage and aeration, which helps normal root development in the nursery. Because biodegradable bags do not have to be cut away from the roots when seedlings are transplanted, the root system remains undisturbed, which reduces the risk of transplant shock to the tree seedling,” Muriuki says.

    Polythene seedlings tubes restrict the growth and aeration of roots in the nursery. When removed from the plastic and transplanted into the soil, the roots, which may have coiled in the bag, take longer to anchor into the ground. This might explain the lower vigor seedlings suffer when they are transplanted from these bags.

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