I love leaves and even wrote a tongue-in-cheek poem, “In Defense of Leaves,” about them last fall, but it’s time to make way for spring and the flowers I love so much. I don’t clean my gardens up in the fall, I wait until spring to clear away the leaves and other debris left from the previous season.
Benefits of Leaves
There are contrasting opinions about whether leaves should be removed in the fall, or not. I prefer to try to work with nature and hold the personal belief that the leaves are beneficial to my garden. If you search the internet, plenty of articles will come up, but here’s one example from Fine Gardening that supports my practice.
When I first started transforming our front yard to a flower garden, it was mostly dirt. Without being fenced, it was a major thoroughfare for both animals and people. Years ago, my husband made a simple fence to protect my gardening efforts, and the front yard has steadily improved ever since. When it comes to gardening, I’m pretty patient. While some people might prefer to hire a landscaping company to come and plant everything and have it done, I enjoy the process of doing it myself, and waiting for things to mature to see if it looks the way I envisioned. With time I’ve been able to watch the health of the soil improve, and now when I dig in it I find a lot of earthworms which are a good sign. Sometimes they’re so large, I momentarily mistake them for snakes! Here’s a great article on earthworms by soilquality.org.
The Old Way
In the past I gathered leaves by hand, stuffed them into buckets, dumped those into my garden cart, and then took it down the hill and dumped that into my compost pile in the chicken yard. But the heaping cart pulled me going down hill, and was tiring to push back up the hill, even empty.
The New Way
Last Spring my husband gave me the SunJoe Leaf Shredder for Valentine’s Day. I actually asked for it! I wanted to be able to shred the leaves right within my flower garden so that I could immediately use them around the base of plants, or scattered thinly over the ground as mulch.
Reading about it, I imagined it working just like I wanted, but worried that it might disappoint me. I’m happy to report that it worked exactly as I had hoped it would! It’s light-weight and easy for me to move around. It works like a string-trimmer, using a plastic “string” to quickly shred a batch of leaves. It’s designed so that you could put a bag or other receptacle below it, but I’m just letting the leaf litter fall on the ground.
We have two huge oak trees in the front yard, so there are a gazillion acorns. I don’t attempt to scoop them all up. Blue Jays eat them, and if they happen to sprout I just snip them off.
I love sitting on a little stool and using my gloved hands to gather up the debris. It may seem like the hard way to many, including my husband, but I like to do it that way because I’m up close and personal with the ground. I discover new seedlings and growth poking up through the soil, and smell the dirt, leaves, and nearby flowers.
If I were standing up using a rake, I’d likely damage the things that I’m trying to grow. That’s why I like to take my time and be gentle. It’s just a little TLC that I give my flower garden. I think of it as “micro gardening.” I put the debris in 5-gallon buckets, and when they’re full I dump them into the Leaf Shredder and mulch them. It only takes seconds. It’s really fast!
Then I scoop up the mulch and put some around the base of bushes or scatter it lightly over the ground. I say lightly, because I plant some things by scattering seeds, and I also love plants that self-sow. Some seeds need light to germinate, so I don’t want them to be covered too much.
I love surprises in the garden and I find a lot while gardening this way.
It does take some time to do it this way, but before long I have the garden tidied up and ready for spring.