Starting Oct. 24, Portland residents have four weeks to bag up their leaves, set them on the curb, and poof, watch them vanish into the collection arms of the city’s public works department. Here’s a better idea: Turn the leaves into leaf mold and use it next spring (or maybe the one after that) in your garden; leaf mold is compost made wholly from leaves. Among the reasons to like it – it helps keep soil moist. A stash would have come in very handy this past summer.

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1. Construct a bin from chicken wire. Sure, you could just make a big, messy pile, but then the leaves would probably blow away – maybe into your neighbor’s yard.

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2. Rake – don’t blow – the leaves into a pile. Then shred them – smaller leaves decompose faster. You’ll need a mulching mower. Or don’t shred. Using a noisy, gas-guzzling mower seems counter to the idea of gardening sustainably.

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3. Put the leaves into your chicken wire bin. The wetter the leaves, the better. Don’t overstuff the bin as the leaves need air circulation to decompose. Wait. If you like, water and turn the pile over periodically to speed things along.

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4. In the spring, mix the leaves. Then use your DIY leaf mold to amend the soil in your garden.


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