There is so much richness inside a leaf. Leaves are nature’s way of fertilising. Every time a fallen leaf gets wet it releases precious nutrients. Did you know that when collected for composting or placed in a green bin, a leaf is a valuable carbon resource that plays a vital role in building and maintaining soil health?
Think about Autumn leaves, trees have already done the hard work. Autumn leaves are perfectly set to break down. You can store leaves for year-round use in your garden. Oak leaves that have sat out in the weather for months are perfect for composting in Spring or Summer. By storing leaves you will always have enough brown to put into your compost pile.
Let’s look at the different ways you can store leaves.
Leaf storage idea #1 – The Teapot
Your garden can always be improved. Think about installing a feature to create a point of difference. You can create an artful installation for your garden that also serves as storage for your Autumn leaves. Check out this teapot. It is built from wire and mesh. Just lift the teapot lid and you can load in your next leaf drop. You can install the tea pot anywhere in your garden making it a feature to surprise and delight the people who visit your garden.
Imagine turning a corner to see this! Storing leaves doesn’t need to be boring. You can make your leaf storage idea a real talking point. The tea pot is perfect way to fertilise your garden year-round. Just let the leaves sit in your teapot. Each time it rains nutrients will be released feeding the soil and garden below. It’s the perfect way to fertilise naturally. If you don’t want to go to the effort of composting and are happy to fill your teapot to the brim, nature will be happy to do the work for you. Just set and forget!
Leaf storage idea #2 – The Box
If you have moved house recently you might be left with large boxes. These make perfect storage containers for leaves. If you have a nice dry space in your shed, you can stack up your boxes of autumn leaves already to use in your compost or garden. Cardboard is natural and when added into your garden it can also serve as a material you can use to build soil health.
If you have ever left cardboard boxes out in the rain you already know that the cardboard will start to break down when wet. Storing leaves in cardboard is a great way to plan for your garden. Stored leaf boxes are perfect for building your next Lasagne Garden. Simply place the cardboard at the base of your next Lasagne Garden and use the leaves you have stored for leaf layers.
Leaf storage idea #3 – The Leaf Bag
A large, durable bag is a perfect way to store and carry leaves. Since 2021 The Leaf Collective has been giving away free long-lasting, durable leaf bags. Follow the Leaf Collective on Facebook and you can see photos and videos people living in Canberra have shared. Just like cardboard boxes leaf bags are perfect for piling up leaves to use later. You can also use your leaf bag to take leaves to your local community garden giving much needed brown matter to their compost piles.
The bonus of taking the leaves you collect to your local community garden is that you get to meet great people. Some community gardeners are happy to share produce and the flowers growing in their garden. Visiting community gardens is a great way to connect with other people, get gardening tips and advice and to simply enjoy the great outdoors. The best part is you don’t need to spend a cent.
Leaf storage idea #4 – The Timber Crate
Many builders receive their goods in wooden crates. If you have a big garden, you can repurpose wooden crates into leaf storage or compost bays. They make a perfect storage space. Simply fill with leaves. You don’t have to do another thing. The timber crate allows air to circulate. When leaves get wet, they start to break down. Little microbes (bugs and worms) move in and get to work breaking the leaves down for you.
You might want to top up the leaves in your crate from time to time. The more attention you give to the materials in your crate the quicker you can realise the rich, almost black organic matter into your garden. If you decide to use the crate as a compost space you will need to include 1/3 green organic matter (like grass clippings, fresh leaves, coffee grinds, fruit and vegetable scraps, and crushed eggshells). If you add water in between rain your pile will break down even faster.
In big gardens you can literally fill your crate with leaves and in 18-24 months’ time you get some of richest organic matter. Look at this!
Leaf storage idea #5 – The Mesh Cage
If you need a quick fix the mesh cage or chicken wire with a couple of posts are the perfect way to store leaves. Just like the Timber Crate you can fill your cage with leaves and set and forget. In time your cage will deliver rich black organic matter ready to use in your garden. Mesh cages can supply the leaves you need to build your next Lasagne Garden. The best part is that by gathering up your leaves you don’t have to go out and buy chemical fertilisers. Nature will do all the work for you.
Leaf storage idea #6 – Compost Pile
If you have a bit of space in your garden you can drop your leaves straight onto a compost pile. The rule of thumb is every compost pile needs 2/3 brown matter (fallen leaves) and 1/3 green. This rule might vary a little bit from location to location. If your compost pile is getting a bit smelly you know you’ve got too much green matter and that it’s time to add more leaves to your compost pile.
Your compost can be put into various structures, or you can simply create a pile. For some a pile is easier. You can simply grab a big gardening fork and turn the pile every few days. If you do this, you’ll have a layer of compost to add to your garden in as little as 6-8 weeks depending on the location of your pile. The more sun and water, the quicker the pile will break down.
There are so many ways you can realise the true value of leaves. Your leaves can be stored in garden features that get all the neighbours talking or they can be stored in boxes ready for your next Lasagne Garden. Leaves are vital for soil health. The more you can gather the richer your soil will become. A soil that is teaming with little critters such as little bugs and worms is a healthy soil. Healthy soils are all that plants need to grow and thrive. Rich in organic matter, healthy soils are good at holding the water and nutrients that plants need. When you let nature do the work for your chemical fertilisers can be avoided, saving you a whole lot of money.
What is The Leaf Collective?
The Leaf Collective has been created by Canberrans and was built and trailed by Social Marketing @ Griffith. The Leaf Collective is contributing to the prevention of algal blooms in Canberra’s waterways. Since launching the pilot program in 2021 more than 345,000L of leaves have been diverted from storm water drains. The program is supported by the ACT Government.