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Leaves are one of nature’s great gifts to the gardener, says Julie Moore, as she explains why they are so good for the soil and how they can best be utilised

If you have trees in or around your garden, you’ll find yourself with a mass of leaves to deal with once the glorious autumn show of colour is over. Fallen leaves are often viewed as a nuisance, making paths slippery, clogging ponds, carpeting lawns or creating damp piles outside your door that blow inside every time you open it. It can be back-breaking to rake and clear, eating into valuable weekend time over the coming months. However, you can make great use of the leaves – consider them as a valuable gift from Mother Nature and one of the very best sources of organic matter to boot.

Leaves are packed with trace minerals that trees draw up from deep within the soil. When added to your garden, leaves feed earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms.They lighten heavy soils and help sandy soils to retain moisture. Use them to make an attractive mulch for the garden or to protect tender plants from the cold.They are a great source of carbon for the compost heap and can be used to make invaluable seed and potting compost mixes.

Before you condemn your fallen leaves to the garden waste wheelie bin, here are some environmentally friendly ways to use these free assets which can save you money too.

Rather than dread the coming months, profit from the annual windfall of leaves
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About Kitchen Garden Magazine

In this month's issue of Kitchen garden... - Win Garden Essentials Tools,Seeds & Sundries worth over £1947 - Going nuts home-grown & Healthy - Free cherry tomatoes + 10 Packets of seeds - Season's eatings + The tastiest sprouts about! + A feast of festive flavours - Christmas gift ideas - Results from our Massive Marrow & Passionate plotter competition - Feed winter birds top tips! - Fruit trees for small spaces