It’s November, so settle an argument for me – what is the best thing to do with fallen leaves?
Should you leave (no pun intended) them be, or should you collect them up?
Me? I collect them up – yes, it’s annoying and needs doing pretty much every day, but there are good reasons.
If you can, shred them up and then pack them into a bag that has been pierced with air holes to allow drainage of excess water.
In about 12 months you’ll have sumptuous leaf mould, full of nutrients and perfect for mulching.
Collecting them up also deprives annoying pests of their hiding places – slugs especially love to shelter under fallen leaves, coming out at night to feast on your Hosta leaves.
Also, soggy leaves on the flower border don’t look particularly appealing, so there’s an aesthetic reason to round them up.
The counter argument is that as the leaves naturally decompose they improve the quality of the soil and there is an element of truth in this.
However, the real truth is that for organisms such as earthworms to break down the leaves, they need to take valuable nutrients out of the soil – so it can actually adversely affect its quality.
So – clear them up!
Being November of course there are plenty of people preparing bonfire stacks with garden waste – but, please, please, check them for wildlife before lighting them up.
Guy Fawkes may have hated the English Parliament, but I am sure that hatred did not extend to our precious wildlife.
Anyway, life at the potager garden continues, and we’ll still harvesting carrots, parsnips, leeks, kale, potatoes and spinach.
I know chefs are using the carrots in particular for their carrot and ginger soup, and there are plans afoot for a parsnip soup soon.
There is still some sowing to be done, and 350 onion sets have just gone into the ground to be harvested next year, and I have also sown plenty of sweet pea seeds ready to grace the restaurant tables.
The hideous wet weather of late has not dampened our spirits, although it may have made those bonfire stacks hard to set ablaze.