Dateline: 17 September 2016
In my previous blog post I told you about my new vintage (1977) MacKissic shredder. After trying to shred some wet compost, and finding that was a lost cause, I concluded that it would be best to wait until fall when the leaves start falling to put the shredder to use.
But I couldn't wait. The fact is, I have woods with a layer of year-old leaves and small twigs right behind my house. And it hasn't rained much this year so everything is dry. So I raked up a bunch of old leaves and ran them through the MacKissic.
The result was, as you can see from the pictures, a lovely shredded confetti of leaves. Will Bonsall is a big advocate for making and using leaf confetti as a mulch in the garden. He collects and shreds TONS of leaves ever year. He stockpiles shredded leaves in the fall (and keeps them dry) to use the following growing season. He also stores dry unshredded leaves through the winter to shred and use the next year. This is discussed in his book, Will Bonsall's Essential Guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening.
I always figured that leaves are best shredded only for compost, not saved and used as a mulch the next year. This idea of using leaf confetti as a mulch is new to me.
Will writes in his book that the shredded leaves will not mat down and, "Shredding leaves is worth the effort, because the shreds will not blow around the garden..." Besides that, leaves-as-mulch feed the soil. They are high in nitrogen and minerals.
Will lives in Maine and he grows a variety of grains (including quinoa!) on a small scale. Once the grains are up a few inches, he sprinkles the leaf confetti over the plants. I like that idea.
I have a single garden bed that is currently planted with a cover crop of field peas. The peas are up a little bit and looking real nice. Here's a picture...
That bed is an ideal place to try out Will's leaf-confetti mulch idea. So that's what I did...
|(click the picture for a larger view)|
I think this idea makes a lot of sense.
The garden bed above grew green beans this year. I cut the old bean tops off at ground level and planted the field peas without turning the soil. In about three weeks, I will remove the top growth of peas, leave the leaf confetti in place, and plant the bed to garlic. It is a no-till gardening experiment.
I'm hoping the roots and the leaves will contribute to the overall soil health, which will contribute to overall plant health.