If you’ve gardened hand in hand with nature or if you’re a regular reader of TendingMyGarden.com you already know how valuable your fall leaves are to your garden.
But do you know the way to use them that will most benefit your garden and thus, next year’s crops?
Popular Ways Folks Use Their Leaves
Many folks compost their leaves, thinking that compost is the magic elixir that guarantees success in the garden. Certainly it can be beneficial. But it does not eliminate the need for energy in the soil that raw organic materials provide during the decay process..
Others chop them with the lawn mower or weedeater and then apply the finely chopped results to their beds.
Before I knew the information presented in this post, Bill use to go over the leaves with the lawnmower before they were hauled to the garden. I especially liked those for mulching lettuce beds.
How Do I Know the Best Way to Use Leaves to Get the Most Benefit?
The information used to draw my conclusion comes from the years of research done by notable soil scientist, Robert Parnes.
This research was done when he ran the soil testing facility at Wood End Laboratory in Maine.
The specialty of the Lab was to offer recommendations for organic fertilizers. Thus, much of the research was done in an effort to understand the distinctions among organic, inorganic, and synthetic fertilizers.
Those of us who take advantage of this information will know that extra knowledge. And by using it will reap its rewards — having even greater success in our gardens.
The Most Benefit for Your Garden is Derived from Whole Leaves that Decay in Your Garden.
Organic raw materials pass through several stages as they decay. A unique effect (or contribution) is made to the soil in each stage.
Each stage of decay involves specific soil organisms. If any of those organisms are not involved in the decay process what they would have offered is then missing from the soil.
Finished compost (compost that is totally decayed) adds NO energy to your garden soil. Its value lies only in the nitrogen and minerals it “may contain” which will eventually be available to your plants.
(I used the words “may contain” because what the compost contains will depend on what was used to make it.)
It’s the decay of raw organic materials that add energy to soil. To get the most energy – you’ll want every stage of decay.
Bottom Line to Mr. Parnes’s Years of Research
Mr. Parnes noted that when there was controversy about which fertilizers were best, those involved tended to ignore (and belittle) the far more important value of organic residues: which is its contribution of energy to an agricultural system.
The energy from organic residues is required to maintain soil fertility and there is NO substitute.
Interesting to Note
It’s interesting to note that long before the chemical industry came along a hundred plus years ago, farmers all over the world used their organic residues to keep their soils fertile.
Most have lost that knowledge because of the wide spread promotion from that very rich industry.
I would especially suggest the following posts to further expand your understanding of what I’ve covered in this post.
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