Most of the work in the garden is now finished for the year. Rain, snow, less sunlight hours, and freezing temperatures have sent many of us inside until spring. There might be one final thing you can do to finish cleaning up in preparation for next year. That chore is collecting as many leaves as you can. Its a great source of free organic material that comes from your yard.
The leaves from our property give me plenty for my needs to take me through the entire growing season(except for this year.) You can rake them up or use your lawn mower to make it a little easier. Once bagged, I like to put them all together and cover them with a layer of plastic. This prevents any moisture from getting into the opening at the top of the bag and keeps your leaves dry. By spring, if no moisture has entered the bags, you leaves will become light and brittle. This makes it even easier to break down in the compost bin. And, leaves are one of the best brown ingredients that you can have around to mix with your green material.
Some folks, such as myself, simply bag and keep their leaves for next year. Others will till them into the ground now or next spring, Either way, be sure to get as many leaves as you can this time of year.
Another excellent way to use your leaves next year is for a mulch. In particular, it’s my ingredient of choice to help cool the soil around my lettuce during the summer. It works like a charm. Here’s a nice article that talks more about the benefits of leaves.