EUGENE, Ore. — Western Oregon is getting a couple of days off from rain. It is a great time to prep the garden for winter.
Jim Graham is closing up his garden plot at Amazon Community Garden. He uses a tarp as a cover. Other gardeners use leaves as mulch, putting about two inches on top of their soil.
“This is a perfect example of how to use leaves in your garden,” said Chris Girard, Eugene Parks and Open Space South Region Supervisor.
Those leaves haven’t just fallen from a tree. They come from a massive pile located at East 27th and High Street. When the city of Eugene collects leaves each fall, that’s where they go. They will decompose over the course of winter, spring and summer.
Previously, the pile of leaves were only available to gardeners at the Amazon Community Garden. In recent years, the city has opened up the pile to everyone. You just have to come and get it. Many garden experts call it ‘black gold.’
“There is an opportunity for people to come and add a lot of nutrients to their soil. These leaves have a lot of trace minerals that they got from the roots of the trees and that can be added to the soil and it really benefits your garden,” said Girard.
According to Rodales Book of Composting, decomposed leaves have the ability to hold 300 to 500 percent its weight in water, which means less water is needed when mixed up to 25 percent into the soil.
Another benefit to mulching with these leaves–it can prevent soil compaction caused by winter rains and will keep weed seeds from germinating next spring and summer.
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