Fall is the time we can do our gardens a BIG favor! Rather than rake the leaves up, put them in a plastic bag and send them off to the dump, why not take this free organic additive and spread it on our garden plots. It’s FREE and very helpful to our soil. By adding this organic matter we encourage our friends the worms to stay and multiply. Lots of worms are a sign of a healthy soil and healthy soil will produce great plants.
Step one— Use your lawn mower to grind up the leaves–a couple of passes will accomplish this. Take these ground up leaves and spread them about 3 inches thick on your garden beds.
Step two— I place some black weed cloth over the leaf mulch to prevent them from blowing away in the winds of winter. By spring most of the leaves will be gone as food for the worms.
Pretty simple and cheap! I would prefer maple leaves but any type will do the job. Feeding the worms will make them happy and want to stay in your garden. As they digest your banquet they produce and leave behind those wonderful worm castings to nourish your plants. They also till your garden to improve your soil. I haven’t tilled my dahlia beds in 2 years and can drive my stakes in up to 14″ by hand.
In the spring when you uncover your beds the soil will be warmed and your plants will have a good start. There will be some leaf matter left and this can be left on the surface as a mulch or worked into the top few inches of the soil by hand raking.
This fall as I dug my tubers there were loads of worms entwined in my clumps. I gently returned these to the soil and told them dinner was coming. I truly have never seen so many worms in my soil.
So take advantage of this free help for your soil by recycling your leaves in your garden. The worms will thank you!
Used Coffee Grounds
Here is another FREE garden aid-USED COFFEE GROUNDS! We as a country and as individuals drink a lot of coffee. The remains of all this brewing are usually just thrown out with our waste. But wait, these used grounds are a wonderful organic fertilizer for our garden. Last spring I collected many pounds of spent coffee grounds from my local deli. I picked up a 5 gal container every other day. I then spread them on the surface of the garden to be worked in lightly before planting. Don’t worry about the filters as they are paper and soon are eaten by the worms (who by the way love coffee grounds). These grounds started my organic dahlia garden off in a fast way.Used coffee grounds contain about 2% nitrogen, about 1/3% of phosphoric acid and 1% potash. Please note most of the nitrogen will be available pretty fast. So use several small amounts over the season. Analysis of coffee grounds also shows that they contain many minerals, include trace minerals and carbohydrates. All this makes used coffee grounds a good fertilizer.
HOW MUCH? Use about 6-8 tablespoons per plant dug in around the roots—or spread ¼” – ½” on the surface of the garden and work it in thoroughly in the top of the soil. I did this 3 times last season with excellent results.
Used coffee grounds and slugs: The research on slugs and caffeine shows that concentrations of caffeine as low as .01% reduces feeding by slugs (they avoid caffeine treated leaves) but that doesn’t kill them at that rate. A 1% solution kills 60% of slugs while a 2% solution will knock out 95% of all slugs. Fresh coffee contains about .05% caffeine. Thus the grounds will act as a deterrent but not kill the slugs. Slugs will go elsewhere to eat if given a choice. Next season I plan to use coffee grounds around my dahlia garden to discourage the slugs and snails.
In addition to the above grounds make a wonderful addition to your compost pile.ALL THIS and THEY are FREE!!
CAUTION NOTE: Both leaves and coffee grounds are slightly acidic and may lower your garden Ph so do have your soil tested to reveal the Ph. If needed rather than add lime add crushed eggshells that are equal to or better than lime. Again these are FREE and usually just thrown away adding to the waste stream. Starbucks has a company-sponsored program to give away used coffee grounds.
*Two simple FREE ways to improve your garden soil and as we all know great dahlias start with great soil*