What to do with autumn leaves

Autumn is nowhere near finished, but there are already plenty of leaves, in various shades of yellow, brown and some oranges, drifting under the fruit trees to the grass and the driveway. I have plans for these leaves – and they certainly don’t involve throwing them away. 

I’m taking a leaf (pardon the terrible pun), out of Peter Cundall’s book The Practical Australian Gardener, raking the leaves up and spreading them under the trees and shrubs, as he recommends in the June chapter (pg 84). They should then break down into the soil and act as a source of organic matter.

The autumn leaves gathering in piles on the driveway.

So I’m trying to spend my lunchbreaks outside (weather permitting), raking up the leaves that have already amassed in the orchard. After taking a few photos of the fallen leaves, of course; I couldn’t resist and I’m sure I’ll take more as Autumn continues into Winter.

The brightly lit leaves on the hazelnut trees

One of the things I quickly realised is that 20 deciduous fruit trees and 4 deciduous nut trees produce a LOT of leaves! So I’m gathering them into large piles right now (partly for the small, slightly silly sense of achievement). Some will be spread under the trees and shrubs, while others will be composted… as soon as I source another compost bin (right now I’ll just try and keep them under control).

Some of the piles of autumn leaves, with more work still to be done.

I’ll probably have to keep doing this at least once a week for a little while longer, but there are plenty of other tasks to keep me occupied in the garden while I wait for more leaves to fall. I need to continue my war with the ivy, there are a few winter vegetables still to be planted and I’m debating whether or not to plant some more seeds, this time in the orchard (I’ll give an update on this another time).

The yellow leaves on one of the many fruit trees.

I also want to identify a small plant (in the photo below) which I’ve found under a few of the fruit trees – I’ll be searching through my books, but please let me know if you know what it is.

The mystery plant that’s appeared under a few of the fruit trees.

All of these jobs should occupy my lunchbreaks for a while – I prefer to work in the garden during lunch in the colder months, when the sun has warmed up the air, the damp leaves and the cold soil (unlike summer, where I want to get the tasks done early in the morning before it gets too hot).

I’m also spending a good deal of time staring up at the branches of the fruit trees in trepidation. The falling leaves are also exposing the myriad of branches on the fruit trees, which I’m going to have to prune once Winter arrives. Gulp.

Looking up at the branches of the fruit trees – there’s a lot of pruning ahead of me.

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