Our yard is about to be covered with maple and oak leaves. Can leaves be used as mulch in flower and vegetable beds?
All those trees that are turning brilliant colors are about to flame out and drop their leaves to the ground. Yes, most of them can be used as mulch, and they can benefit your beds. Here are some guidelines for using leaves as mulch from the UT/TSU Extension office:
*Use a 3- to 4-inch layer of shredded leaves around trees and shrubs in annual and perennial flower beds. Notice they suggest “shredded.” Leaves that have been chopped up will decompose faster. They also will, no doubt, stay in place better than whole leaves if a gusty wind comes along.
*Oak leaves may change the pH of the soil over time, making it more acidic, so you may have to apply lime to maintain a favorable number. If your beds are mulched primarily with oak leaves, you should have the soil tested about every three years. Oak leaves are also tougher and decompose more slowly, so it’s especially important to chop them before you use them to cover your perennial beds. Otherwise, when spring comes, a thick layer of oak leaves could smother emerging plants.
*Leaves can be mixed into kitchen garden beds and in beds where you plant annual flowers. Most of the leaves will decompose before planting time next spring. A bonus: if you have heavy clay soil, a thick layer of leaves tilled into the soil will improve the soil structure. Free mulch, plus better soil: win-win.
Events coming up
*Nashville Tree Foundation’s Tenth Annual ReLeafing Day is planned for Nov. 19. Volunteers will plant more than 100 powerline-approved trees and 100 shade and fruit trees in parks, at schools and on selected streets and flood buy-out properties in westNashville. Volunteers can check in for planting assignments at 8 a.m. at the outdoor basketball courts near the Olympic statue on the TSU campus,3500 John A. Merritt Blvd.To learn more about the event, visit the Nashville Tree Foundation’s Web site.
*Master Gardeners ofRutherfordCountyis accepting registrations now for their annual Garden Basics classes. The five-week course begins Jan. 23 and is held Monday evenings, 6 – 9 p.m. at the Lane Agri-Park building, 315 John R. Rice Blvd. in Murfreesboro. The series is designed for those new to gardening, new to Middle Tennessee gardening conditions, and for experienced gardeners looking to improve gardening skills. Registration fee is $45, and the courses are taught by Certified Master Gardeners. Sign up now; the class is limited to 45 gardeners. To learn more call the UT/TSU Extension at 615-898-7710 or get an application the Rutherford County Master Gardeners Web site.