Autumn leaves. Picture: Nuala Madigan
I have noticed that the first of the autumn leaves have begun to fall from the trees in our local area. I am sure I have written before about the value of autumn leaves but thought as it is early in the season, why not use this chance to give another reminder to us all about their value.
Did you know that leaf mould created after two years of storing leaves is low in nutrients? This makes it an ideal potting compost to give germinating seedlings just the right amount of nutrients to begin growth. Leaf mould is also a great mulch for flower beds and vegetable patches. It not only suppresses weeds but also locks moisture into these areas where applied. In turn, this helps us to conserve water. When the sun shines and water begins to evaporate from the surface of our growing areas covered in leaf mould, the water evaporates from the mould and not the soil, so leaving the soil that our plants are rooted in damp.
Leaf mould is easy to make, all you have to do is place damp autumn leaves into a bag in which air holes have been punched.
Alternatively, you can also use a wire mesh frame and cover the leaves with cardboard for the winter. Leave this for two years, as it does not need light it can be left at the back of a shed or under a hedge. Once ready, you will still recognise the leaves but they will crumble when handled.
You can even apply autumn leaves direct to your growing areas to help protect the soil from erosion in the winter.
A pile of autumn leaves in your garden is also a hibernation area for visiting hedgehogs.
Over the coming weeks the volume of autumn leaves that will be readily available in our communities will increase. While some we will tidy and recycle in our brown bins, I do encourage you to keep some for your garden.
If you would like help identifying local wildlife or indeed to share your images of local wildlife encountered to be used in a future Wildlife Watch column, contact me on 045 860133 or email email@example.com.
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