With the deluge of rain and the hurricane like winds that Scotland has been bestowed this weekend, the leaves are all well and truely down.
For some with small gardens or few trees, leaves are no issue and they are free to enjoy the beautiful colours and fantabulous crunching sounds, but for us and for many others, picking up the leaves is a necessary and slightly tedious autumn task.
For ourselves this is not garden vanity, on the many woodland paths that we have, the layer of wet leaves can get rather slushy, slippery and dangerous for our customers, and on the borders they can form such a dense layer that it can hinder growth of plants. A further side benefit of clearing up your leaves; other than the excellent leaf-mold it creates; is the removal of a means of possible transfer of disease.
- Remember that compost from leaves can be very weed free, but you can sometimes get birch, ash or elder seedlings coming up.
Here are a few guidelines that may help you in your own garden gathering.
* In a small garden, add leaves in layers to your compost heap, with your other autumn gatherings, big clumps will not break down well.
* In a big garden, gather your soft leaves (Elder, Birch, Hazel, Ash..) in their own bin for 12 months, then use as a soil improver or in your own compost mixes. Harder leaves (Oak, Beech, Alder, Holly)will take two years to break down sufficiantly.
*Be careful when raking or hoeing in Autumn, as snowdrops and narcissus are just below the surface and can be damaged.
*Those who had a little autumn forethought can haul in the nets they spread earlier over ponds and add the contents to the compost heap, it is a good idea to re-net, as the wind blow can bring more leaves back in. The rest of us must either drain and clean the pond or get busy with the waders and the rake.
- And while we are on the subject of ponds, plants in established ponds can get lifted and divided, give away the excess, or pot some up and protect them from frost and they will go down a charm at the spring charity sales.
*While clearing up leaves it can be a good time to clean up dead stems, I tend to prefer to do this in late Feb, early March as it gives some winter protection if the weather is hard, but many people prefer now to get it over with.
* With only XX amount of days to Christmas, the fine holly berries may well be a temptation to birds before you are ready for them, so protect some bunches with fleece or net bags.