It’s that time of the year again when the leaves are turning and making a mess of your yard forcing residents to continuously rake them up with what it feels like daily.  

Leaves can serve another purpose besides being a pain to clean up, as they can be used as a composting agent within your vegetable garden to help strengthen it up for the next year.  

Leslie Cornell, the owner of Cornell Design and Landscaping says that you can either work the leaves into your garden soil now before the snow hits or have a top layer on the soil throughout the winter. 

“You’re going to find ladybugs making houses inside those leaves so now we have the good guys who eat aphids and they are going to be living in those leaves insulated from winter,” says Cornell. “Then in the spring if you can hang off until the grounds thaws, the ladybugs will come out of the leaves and climb back up the trees.” 

Once the ladybugs have vacated the leaves Cornell says you can rototill the layer of leaves into your garden in the springtime. She adds that it does take about a full season for the leaves to break down and become usable for the plants.  

Cornell did want people to make sure that the leaves that you are using aren’t littered with diseases, which will become problematic. 

In today’s day and age with the price of food continuously increasing, more and more people are growing their own produce in many different ways.  

“Some people are growing them in buckets, you can still do the same things with your buckets, just leave a layer of leaves on there, it gives a place for the good guys to hide out for the winter, and in the spring, you can still turn those leaves into the bucket.” 

The insertion of leaves into your garden will help with aeration and drainage immediately through the soil while giving the plants a source of food once it breaks down.  

Though your spare leaves are useful to your vegetable gardens they don’t have the same effect when dealing with flower beds that have mulch or landscaping fabric within them. In saying that, Cornell says that they can be used as a form of insulation.  

“You can use the leaves to let them collect around the bases of the bushes, trees, and herbaceous perennials around the yard. It’s good to clean all that out in the spring after you’ve had the good guys have a place to live. Plus, it helps in our area as we have unreliable snow cover.” 

The leaves will help protect those trees, bushes, and herbaceous perennials from the elements throughout the winter creating a sort of insulation barrier.  

Cornell concluded by saying that if you have some spare leaves you can begin to start your compost in a bucket and then once broken down can be added to your garden.