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With all the fallen leaves that were on our field I picked them up with my lawnmower with the pouch and them put that in my garden and worked the rototiller afterwards. I thought it would be good for the garden but then some people made me doubt.

Was that a good move or not? And why?

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3 Answers 3

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What's done is done, but in future years, as others suggest, collect up the leaves and compost them separately, either in a contained heap or in binliner bags with holes in the bottom. Leaves should be wet, crammed in a binliner, the tops tied shut, holes poked in the bottom, then left in a corner somewhere to rot down over a year or so, by which time they will have shrunken right down to something commonly known as 'black gold'. This can then be added to your soil with, if applied in spring, a handful or two of nitrogen in some form or other. In the UK, that would be Growmore or other granular nitrogenous, but balanced, feed.

The reason you wouldn't normally allow leaves to degrade slowly on the ground in your garden, or dig in shredded or whole leaves, is because the fungi and bacteria which break down the leaves require nitrogen to function. Therefore, if you add chopped leaves directly to your soil, the activity of those organisms will increase, and remove more nitrogen from the soil in which your plants are growing, leaving less available nitrogen for plants to take up.

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Thanks that is the kind of answer I was hoping –  mateoc Oct 24 '12 at 16:30

Leaves that have been chopped (and I am assuming this is what your mower did) can add motility but not necessarily additional fertility to garden soil. This is a good thing depending upon your soil type: humus to make the soil drain better, be a bit looser rather than compacted is good. It was long believed that leaves would raise the pH to the acid side, not always good for vegetable gardening, but this idea has been debunked. I use chopped leaves for winter mulch and it works beautifully: during the winter's rainfalls, snowfalls, freeze and thaws the leaves slowly break down and become part of the good soil mix while reducing weeds to zero. Unchopped leaves, however, can become a slithery mess, sticking together and blanketing an area that will need real work to incorporate in the Spring.

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One last thing: in future, I would make a large bin somewhere out of sight with wire mesh or chicken wire and put all fall leaves in there as you rake them. Press them down hard. By next season you will have ready-made humus to add to your garden soil. –  Suzanne Oct 20 '12 at 15:40
Lower the ph to the acid side... –  Grady Player Oct 21 '12 at 2:48
Thanks for your answers. Can I do that with loose leaves or it has to be in some sort of containers? –  mateoc Oct 21 '12 at 2:48

It will probably be fine, depending on what your soil is like, but not as good as composting then adding... For all the reasons mentioned, and you have set up an ideal pest breeding ground... Millipedes and pill bugs and the like can multiply on leaf litter.

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