A Forest Garden - Record of Progress

Collecting Leaves

Ready, Set, Collect

In Melbourne, there is a six week window to collect all the leaves you are going to collect for the whole year. Piles and piles of dried leaves just there for the taking – if only it were that easy…

There is competition for the best spots (just like fishing), and those council sweeper trucks get the idea to go clean them up before you get the chance. Then there is the threat of a strong wind blowing them all down the drain, or a heavy rain washing them all down the drain, the property owner putting them in the bin (yes it breaks my heart), or using one of those blower motors to… blow them down the drain!

But if you can find an untouched, unloved corner where those leaves are just left to rot – jackpot baby!!!

Here are some of my most recent leaf collecting adventures, and this time I brought a little helper…

I wrote a post about collecting leaves last year (2012) and it did generate a heap of comments and questions via email. This is a very cheap and easy way to get all the carbon components for your compost and leafmold in the one product. Leaves have a carbon to nitrogen ratio of anywhere between 40 to 80:1, which compared to coffee grounds of 20-24:1, or grass clippings 20:1 makes them a ‘brown’ compost ingredient.

If you have ever noticed your compost smelling badly and not breaking down those ‘green’ ingredients (like when you throw kitchen scraps in the compost and it turns into a mass of rotting muck, never to become soil), then you need to add more things like leaves.

But now back to the adventure.

Spending time with the kids

It might not seem like it at first, but collecting leaves on a misty Sunday morning is in fact more fun than going to the movies, and it is free except what it takes to get to the site. All you need to do is get the rake out of the shed and some plastic bags, then head off in the direction of the biggest group of deciduous trees. We are very lucky here in Melbourne, with what are a large variety of well established Oak, Elm, Maple, and so on, both within the city proper and surrounding suburbs.

There is a reason why the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne are known as ‘the leafy suburbs’. Not only are they leafy, they are also the most well to do parts of the city, and what generally happens is that the folks there don’t get out on the street too early on a Sunday morning to clear out the carbon gold just waiting for me and the leaf master.

Now when it comes to kids collecting leaves, you give them a rake and a plastic bag, and they do the rest. If they are slow or get distracted don’t yell, whatever. You can see this child (AKA the leaf master), in particular demonstrating the ‘Noski’ Dance. It is also the first animated GIF to grace this site, and most likely the last…


Sure we had a car full of plastic bags full with leaves, and just check out what was going to be waiting for us the next week – all those brown leaves still to fall 🙂

maple tree leaves dropping

A rake, some bags, and a helper – get to it 🙂



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