The longer you garden, the greater your appreciation for the value of organic matter. And one of the very best sources of organic matter is autumn leaves.
Leaves are packed with trace minerals that trees draw up from deep in the soil. When added to your garden, leaves feed earthworms and beneficial microbes. They lighten heavy soils and help sandy soils retain moisture. They make an attractive mulch in the flower garden. You can use them to insulate tender perennial plants from the winter cold.
Here’s how to put leaves to work in your garden. Let the leaves pile up on your lawn and then drive over them a few times with the lawn mower. Rake them up and then use them as mulch in your perennial or vegetable gardens. In time, they will break down and do wonders for your soil. Your soil will be teeming with earthworms and other beneficial organisms by spring.
Soil with good organic content like shredded leaves is high in calcium and magnesium and retains three to five times its weight in water—rivaling peat moss. If you compost, add them to your compost bin with grass clippings and once they are composted, use them as mulch in your garden beds all summer long!