Fall is here – look at that beautiful foliage! While we love to appreciate the wonderful colors of the fall foliage, the one thing that often accompany it – the fallen leaves, is another story. “What a nuisance!” – we might think. With the thought we might just pick up the rake and bloom, sweep them together, pile them up, then dump them away as garbage. We have been doing this for so long we never thought second time about it. But is this right? Actually, the best place for those leaves to go is not garbage, but where they fall on – the earth, or soil, to be more precise. This is what nature has been doing for millions of years. It is the nature’s way of keeping everything alive and well.
If we go to a forest, when we set our sight on its floor, we might see a thick layer of leaves, accumulated over many years. Nobody cleans them away; the leaves just keep falling and sitting on the older leaves, year after year. Over the time, those leaves at the bottom will be absorbed into the soil. Fallen leaves are an excellent source of organic matter for the soil. With the help of all the living things in the soil, including macro (worms etc.) and micro organisms (bacteria, etc.) in the soil, they will be broken down and transformed into nutrients for the plants. The soil with the abundance of such nutrients is called black gold. These kind of soil is:
In California, where drought is a constant threat, while all kinds of solutions are being explored, healthy soil, with its water holding capacity and implication for water usage reduction, can be an important part of the overall solutions.
Healthy soil can also hold more carbon. As we are facing the climate change, which the carbon dioxide is the culprit, it turns out, soil can also play an important role for fighting climate change. According to Nature Conservancy, “Healthy soils can help reduce the impact of climate change by storing (or sequestering) up to 10 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. But, if soils are managed poorly or cultivated through unsustainable agricultural practices, soil carbon can be released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide, which can contribute to climate change.” From the above, we can see how important healthy soil is for us, and fallen leaves can be one of the keys to achieving it! Fallen leaves is something that healthy soil needs and badly craves. In stead of dumping the leaves away, we can try following.
These are the great ways to use the fallen leaves in your home: