While the dog days of summer seem like they will never end, fall is actually right around the corner. For many of us, that means pumpkin patches and apple cider. But it’s also a golden opportunity to start planning your own veggie garden using the autumn leaves that will soon cover your yard.
Leaves are one of the best ingredients for healthy vegetable garden soil. They contain three major plant nutrients (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus), and mineral micronutrients that plants need. These nutrients and micronutrients become available to plants through decomposition by soil microbes. Earthworms pull leaf pieces down from the surface, eating them as they tunnel through soil. The worms aerate and fertilize the soil with their feces, making nutrients available to small soil critters and microbes, including the bacteria and fungi that play a major role in the decomposition and growth processes.
If you start covering your garden in fall foliage early, by the time spring arrives you will have healthy soil ready to produce delicious cucumbers, tomatoes and beans. To get started, you are going to want to shred the leaves before you spread them around your garden. Unshredded leaves take longer to break down, which means nutrients won’t be readily available.
To shred them, you can mow over leaves several times and then rake them up. Some people also use weed whackers inside a trash can full of leaves, or you can use a leaf shredder. Once you have a large pile of shredded leaves, fork them in. Be sure to water them well all season, and by the time spring rolls around you will have potent soil ready to provide you with fresh produce.
For more tips on planning, planting and maintaining a vegetable garden, our landscape design experts are here to help. Call us today at (201) 941-2458.