How to Enrich Your Soil For Free

Enrich Your Soil for FREE

I am morally opposed to chemical fertilizers. Greg insists on buying it every year, but I prefer to use only compost for my vegetable garden. In my book, the best way to enrich your soil is with natural methods. They won’t come back to haunt you if you do it Mother Nature’s way.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been waiting for those trucks that go by the road that cut and chip all the limbs that are dangerously close to power lines. They must’ve done a very good job last time because they haven’t been back since.

The reason I long to see them is because I read they are always looking for somewhere to dump their wood chips. Wood chips decompose slowly, but they are one of the best sources of mulch anywhere.

The next best thing is leaves. It’s a huge job to rake and move leaves on our property. We even have a machine to help us vacuum them. This year, I asked Greg if it was all right if we left the leaves on the ground and allow them to decompose and feed the soil.

I removed all the leaves near the landscaping by the house because scorpions like to hide there and I refuse to make their lives any easier. Let them go somewhere else.

Elsewhere though, I plan to move leaves to the areas that need the most help. We have a trail too near the house that we’ve used for years for our vehicles to traverse the property, but I want to rebuild it now and bring it back to life. We’ll have to loosen the soil since we’ve compacted it so much, but I also want to add mulched leaves to help the process along.

I discovered quite by accident the power of mulched leaves when we bought our first house. I was raking our yard but I had a million things to do and guests were coming. I neatly raked all the leaves to the edges of the fenced property and promptly forgot about it as fall turned into winter.

By spring I thought I’d better get back out there and bag up those leaves, but discovered instead living gold. The leaves had turned into a mat of brown mulch rich in earthworms and other life. The soil beneath was black and crumbly. It was the best soil I had ever seen in my life.

Fall comes late to my part of Texas. We didn’t start losing leaves until December so we don’t start thinking of raking until January. This year, we’re letting it sit, perhaps only moving a few areas of leaves to places where it needs it most. I suspect I’ll have to do this again next year to get the soil where I like it, but after that, Greg is going to have to help me rake leaves again. 🙂

Try mulching with leaves though. Any garden would benefit greatly.

Tip #1: If you can, use your lawn mower on the leaves to break down the leaves faster.

Tip #2: A big difference between east Texas and north Texas is the amount of rain. Leaves will decompose faster if it gets a lot of water. I could make compost in under three months in east Texas, whereas it takes nearly a full year to get the same results here.

When do leaves fall in your part of the world? Have you ever tried composting?

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8 Comments

  1. Yes, I bag my leaves until they’re nicely rotted and then spread them on my tiny 6ft by 3ft Rhubarb patch. A lot of them I leave on the grass (our damson trees are prodigious shedder of leaves). The danger there is leaving too much on the grass because it stifles it and leaves bald muddy patches.

    • Mike: Good on you! I used to bag up pine needles from the house in SE Texas and bring them up the house in north Texas. I don’t have acid soil up here, so I would judiciously apply the rotted needles on my blueberries.

      Since then I now have a giant pine and a little sapling trying to get a start.

  2. We use all our leaves. The trees that shed are all in the front yard. I rake up leaves that fall on the sidewalk and street. It’s a lot of leaves, and I move these into the backyard and spread them around the bare spots. Both yards are filled with native plants (read: drought-tolerant) and one daunting chore I have is to pick off the leaves that fall onto our plants. They tend to get stuck in the branches and I think it’s looks ugly. So I pick ’em off and add them to decomposing pile.

  3. I love my leaves – they have been a huge blessing while getting my new raised ready for planting. We are on black land – it’s rich and thick…. So I’m using all natural elements to amend. It will take a good three 3 years to get it where it needs to be but I have to say the leaves have been a huge help…

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