On Saturday, we gathered up a bunch of the leaves in the backyard, as well as the leaves that the neighbor in the rear was going to put out at his curbside. Of course, this was Mr. You-need-to-use-chemicals-on-the-lawn, and he couldn't figure out why I would want his leaves... "They'll sour the soil" he said.
I've learned to disregard most of what he says on the topic of gardening and lawn care.
We piled up the leaves and I (hubby disappeared into the house) proceeded to run over them with the mower, tossing each bag of chopped leaves up into the main bed of the veggie garden. right up to the top of the concrete block . So, we now have a 3-4 inch deep layer of chopped leaves on top of the dirt. I also scattered eggshells I'd been saving all over the bed before topping it off with the leaves.
I have no idea where this myth of leaves "souring" the soil came from. Everything I have been reading indicates that chopped up autumn leaves is an excellent mulch. There are two blogs I peruse quite often that have wisdom on this topic. Their gardens are GORGEOUS.
Kevin Jacobs at A Garden for the House says "No room on your property for a big pile of leaves? Then shred the material, just as I do. Shredded leaves can be used immediately. You can till them into the soil, or, if you have a no-till policy (like me), just dump them onto your garden beds as mulch." Take a look at these links for where he uses these shredded leaves:
Margaret Roach at A Way To Garden says "LEAVES make great leaf mold when composted to add organic matter to beds. Maybe start a leaves-only compost pile, and use the proceeds as mulch next year? Running over dry leaves (and other dry non-woody material) with the mower to shred will reduce the area needed, and speed its breakdown." http://awaytogarden.com/garden-chores-november-2014/
Take a look at this video from Fine Gardening magazine. The short article that accompanies it states "A two- to three-inch layer of leaves spread over a garden plot gives several benefits. Leaves hold down weed growth, add organic matter, and protect garden soil from compaction caused by rainfall."
Here's another article that says "Leaves can be used alone as a mulch but tend to blow away in windy locations and can be washed from beds during heavy rain showers. Leaves do best as a mulching material when they’re shredded. Non-shredded leaves and grass clippings can form a thick mat that makes water penetration nearly impossible. If you don’t have a shredder, don’t worry. Leaves can be shredded using the lawn mower." http://www.organiclandcare.net/education/olc-articles/mulching-save-money-using-leaves-mulch
Even the Scott's fertilizer company endorses mulching leaves into the lawn, though you won't catch me using any of their products on my grass & weeds. I ran over whatever leaves were left on the lawn with the mulching mower.
I'll follow up on this experiment in the spring.
In other news, on Sunday I finally dug up those calla lily tubers and put them, the gladiolus corms, and amarylis pots to bed in the basement.