home & garden: Rites of spring gardening include shredding leaves stored since fall
Janice Leach | Contributor
The past weekend saw us dashing into the yard between the rains to be continue with the spring clean up. The weeds, of course, are almost the first plants coming up from the ground, but we also have already impressive rhubarb, baby horseradish, some asparagus, lovage and some herbs. Leaf buds on the currants, the apple tree and the roses assure us spring is coming, albeit slowly.
On Sunday, we indulged in a favorite motorized gardening past time: making leaf mulch. Last fall, the Leaf Thief bagged up most of our leaves as well as some of the neighbors'. We packed our leaves into large paper lawn bags and stored them in the upper floor of our barn, where they became super dry over the winter.
Now that spring is here, we brought the eight full bags down from the barn attic for a leaf shredding party.
We own a very fun, noisy and handy tool handed down to us from friends who up-sized (Thanks, Gloria and John!) to an electric leaf shredder. Our model is actually called Leaf Shredder and is made by Craftsman. It's a light-weight, easy to use tool that can sit on the ground or, even better, atop a plastic garbage can in which we store the extra mulch.
Jim did most of the shredding, and therefore got covered with the most dust. Shredding leaves is a slightly messy enterprise, but leaf mulch is a lovely thing to have on hand for the gardening, so it's very worthwhile.
The shredded leaves help keep down the weeds but tend not to mat down as much as whole leaves do. Like all organic matter, leaves add nutrients to the soil.
We did a quick weeding behind the rhubarb plants and applied a generous layer of leaf mulch. The rest of the mulch is stored in plastic cans until the weather warms and we can move on planting the rest of the garden.
Janice and Jim Leach garden a backyard plot in downtown Ann Arbor and tend the website 20 Minute Garden.