Three Tips To Utilize Fallen Leaves On Your Homestead
For a leaf, fall season or autumn, is death. For us humans, it is a beautiful time of the year before the gloom of winter takes over. While winter brings with it cold and snow, and the inability of most crops to grow, fall brings with it crisp, golden-brown leaves that are absolutely glorious to look at, but not of much use.
For homesteading, however, the fallen leaves, while being a bit of a nuisance can come in handy. Here are some of the tried and tested tips to utilize fallen leaves on your homestead.
This is the process of allowing leaves to decompose over a number of months. Letting the leaves stay and gradually decompose in an aerated container or a pile, will produce an earthy leaves mulch to be used in the garden. This can be a very effective alternate for the quite costly peat moss. The resultant mulch is rich in nutrients and can be used in any growing season to provide extra support to delicate root structures while also thwarting soil erosion.
According to various studies, using leaf mold with soil or even as half decomposed mulch improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture by 50%. Additionally, leaf mold also provides insulation for root crops such as turnips, carrots and rutabagas, in turn prolonging the growing season.
Add Leaves To Compost Heap
Fallen leaves make a great natural addition to compost. Not only do the leaves help retain the much needed moisture for the compost heap, they also provide important microbes to help with the whole decomposition process. Earthworms are known to feast on the leaves, producing nitrogen rich worm manure in return, to be used in the garden.
Although decomposition is a quite a lengthy process, it can be shortened if the leaves are chopped up, shredded, or just mowed over with a lawn mower. While leaving the leaves whole isn’t bad, it takes them longer to decompose.
This process has a lot of different names; no till gardening, lasagna gardening or sheet mulching, however they are all the same. The method comprises of creating a small pile of compost in the garden bed to decompose at the same time the plants are growing.
The reason this process is quite popular is that it takes minimal effort, creates natural fertilizer and nutrients for the plantation, and food for earthworms without disrupting the earthworm habitat that lives in the garden bed.
The sheet mulching process is in fact, quite similar to the natural layering method one can see on the forest floor making it the closest to Mother Nature.
On the one hand, while most people think these methods are time consuming and labor intensive, not only do they provide your land with natural manure and fertilizers; they also lessen the need for machinery. While you may still need some planting equipment, it may not be that big of a deal since these are all natural processes.
Additionally, in the aftermath of a major disaster or crisis, organic farming may be the only way to get survival foods for yourself and your family. Keeping these tips in the back of your mind will most definitely be of great help when anything unfortunate happens on a large scale.