How to handle the leaves in my vegetable garden

Asked December 6, 2017, 8:33 AM EST

I was told in my MG class to plant a crop cover, like crimson clover for the winter, which I did. I was also told by someone at a garden center that I could also pile leaves (mostly oak) on top of the garden beds. My questions are: 1. Is this correct? 2.If so, do I turn the leaves over into the garden along with the clover in the spring, or do I get rid of them? 3. From the first two photos, are my strawberries ready for straw cover, and do I remove the leaves from their bed? (See photo) 4. The third photo is of my asparagus, which I cut down and covered with straw. Should I leave the leaves or remove?

Anne Arundel County Maryland mulch plant care vegetable

1 Response

Leaves are a terrific, free and plentiful mulch. They are doing for your strawberries exactly what straw would do and can be left as is. You can add straw in the spring for weed control, and once you have berries forming, you may want to add straw beneath the clusters just to keep them up off of the ground.

You can absolutely turn the leaves under in the spring, or rake them to the side to continue decomposing. Oak leaves are thick and sturdy. In other years you may want to reduce their size so that they break down faster, and this can be done by mowing them, or even bagging them and letting them dry out, then compacting the bags some so that they break up into pieces.
The leaves are fine on your asparagus as well.