The Q&A Archives: Burning Leaves In Garden

Question: I have a billion leaves raked into my garden... If I burn them, how will it affect the soil next spring ??? Can I safely assume that with fertilizer or manure the soil will show little affect from this burning ??? Will the residue from the ashes bother any vegetables in particular ???

Answer: While some gardeners do routinely burn leaves in their garden spot each fall, it would really be better to allow them to compost either in a composting area or right there in the garden and "feed" the soil as they break down. The addition of all that organic matter would also benefit the structure of the soil and enhance both its air and water holding qualities and ultimately help your plants grow better. To speed up the process, chop them with your lawnmower if possible, then dig them into the soil. You could also dig in or layer on some stable manure or other source of nitrogen at the same time if you wish. The leaves should be broken down sufficiently by spring when you are ready to plant. With regard to being sure about the condition of your soil, the only way to do that is by running some basic soil tests. Your County Extension (696-3500) can help you with the tests and interpreting the results.

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