When we harvest vegetables, we are simply taking away nutrients from our garden.
Yes, plants grow with the help of sunlight and water.
And gases like carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen from the air.
We don’t run out of them. They are abundant around us.
But plants also take minerals from the soil.
Unless we replenish them, eventually we run out of them.
Without necessary nutrients, plants can’t grow to their full potential.
We have to supply those nutrients from outside, in the form of manure and compost.
Not all of us have animals in our gardens.
We can buy manure from the garden centres. But we have to spend money on them.
But we can replenish the nutrients from what is available readily….
Leaves from the trees.
Yes. Ready-made compost is available.
For free at city recycling facilities.
For money at garden centers.
But money and time are involved in getting it to our gardens.
Instead we can make ours easily.
From where I come, Sri Lanka, we bury tree branches before planting potatoes.
As all the households have trees in their yards, women always sweep the leaves and pile them in the corner.
Mango, Jackfruit and Neem trees shed old leaves year around.
Some burn them.
Others are smart enough to save them and sell to the farmers. Many keep cows, goats and chicken at home, their manure is mixed with those leaves.
Farmers come to the houses with their bullock carts and take them away.
This is the black gold!
This nutrient-rich mix is spread in the farm and ploughed.
In the same fashion, you can use the leaves in fall.
You don’t have to bother burying them.
You don’t even have to do the real composting in your garden, with bins and piles.
Rake all the leaves from your yard.
Urban gardeners are blessed with curbside leaf bags left for garbage collection.
In your neighbourhood, you can find almost every house has bags of leaves outside.
Bring them over.
Pile them in once place, run your lawn mower over and shred them.
You will get a dense pile that can easily be spread, like manure, in the garden.
If it is too much work for you, just spread the leaves, close to snowfall.
Snow will cover them and keep them in place.
Rain will make them wet and heavy.
If there is no snow or rain, wind will spread them around and out of garden.
In the winter, nature does the rest with bacteria.
Come spring, turn the soil over to mix.
If you are into no-digging, or just lazy, let the earthworms take care of it.
No harm done to soil.
Or to your muscles.
With the rich organic matter, the soil will keep more moisture and feed the vegetables with needed minerals.
With healthy plants, comes the big harvest.
Mother Earth will be proud of her smart offspring for feeding her.