Leaves are free compost – shred yourself some

Our Flowtron Leaf Eater, a little battle-scarred, but still working four years later

Today was perfect for leaf shredding. The sun was shining, and the leaves were dry. So that’s how I spent my afternoon. Because we love our leaves, and so do our gardens. They really, really do.

Since I wrote about my leaf shredder when I bought it back in 2009, I’ve been hauling it out every fall. Although it now sports a few duct tape battle scars, it still does the job it was hired to do.

In the meantime, I’ve perfected my raking techniques. Here’s the most important one: rake shallowly. The main drawback to using shredded leaves maple leaves is that the maple keys slip through the slots, and next spring you’re weeding a forest of maple seedlings.

Seeds and twigs make up ninety percent of the contents of the yard bags I put out for pickup in fall

Instead of raking down to the ground, I lightly rake up the leaves on the surface. Maple keys are heavier and tend to fall to the bottom. This is much easier when the leaves are dry – wet things tend to stick together. Yard bags are rarely put out at our house for municipal composting pick-up – except for twigs, rose prunings or maple keys.

A big bucket of coarsely shredded leaves, ready for spreading. It’s dinnertime, worms!


  1. There's black gold in that leaf pile, Helen!

    Funny to see all those yard waste bags ready for city pick up right now across our fair city, worms must be crying everywhere 😉

  2. We shred and pick up our leaves (all at the same time) with our riding lawnmower, then we bag them and cover our bed of carrots in two layers of bagged leaves for the winter. Nothing like fresh carrots from the garden in the dead of winter. In the spring we throw the mulched leaves on our gardens. Shredded/mulched leaves are the best! Thanks for reminding gardeners of this garden gold.

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