Put those leaves to good use!
It used to be that winter, to me, was just something to suffer through - something that had to be endured while the equinox and solstice came and went and the season started ramping up early in the next year.
Now, though, I have a found a new gardening-related love: composting!
I've posted pictures and information about my very healthy compost pile on this site, but I'm now also composting-in-place in my raised bed gardens and using ground cover to prevent weeds and enhance the soil, as well.
As you can see in the photo, I mix large leaves directly into my raised bed soil, along with coffee grounds and some kitchen scraps.The worms love it and in this Pacific Northwest climate, it breaks down fast.
In addition, I put a covering of leaves six- to eight-inches deep between the raised beds. This helps with weed control and the leaves break down some there too, in time. The only drawback is that it creates a perfect environment for garden slugs to hide their eggs, but if you are diligent with your slug control, the benefits outweigh the risks.
Unfortunately, the maples on my property are still too young to provide the quantity of leaves I need. Fortunately, there are some huge maples about seven miles down the road. I gave taken my truck and some large garbage cans down there on several occasions over the past two or three weeks and have brought home nearly 200 gallons of packet, wet leaves.
And the best part of it? It's free!!! :)