I like to gather as many bags of leaves from my property as I can. I’ll end up with 10-12 bags by the time I’m done raking, which is perfect for my gardening needs. The majority are use in the composting process as a great brown material, but some will be used as a mulch to keep the soil cooler when growing summer lettuces. Some will be used to amend the existing soil. I keep my bags closed off for the winter storage. I don’t want any moisture getting into the bags because it makes a soggy mess come spring. I end up putting all my bagged leaves under a plastic cover so I don’t have to worry about it. When I need a bag of leaves during the growing season they’re in perfect shape for my uses. They are completely dried out and crumble into pieces very easily.
In each of my square foot garden boxes I will push over about 3 inches of soil. I then spread a layer of fall leaves over the entire surface, and then cover up the leaves with the soil I originally moved over. By the time spring arrives you’ll usually find no leaves at all when you dig down. The reason? Earthworms. You end up adding a great ingredient to your soil that will set you up for success next year.
Years ago, when I didn’t have any trees or leaves produced on my property, I ended up asking the neighbors for theirs. They always said yes. There’s always a way to get free leaves if you can’t produce enough from your property.