Answer: You can till your leaves directly into the garden in fall and let them decompose slowly over the winter. Usually they would be broken down enough that by spring you can plant directly into the soil. You shouldn't apply the leaves in spring because in the course of breaking down the leaves, microorganisms in the soil use nitrogen needed by plants, so your plants may be temporarily stunted. I'd compost any leaves not added in spring and in fall I would add and till in about a 4" layer of leaves and if you still have extras, compost them in a separate area. Add the finished leaf compost in spring..
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