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Gardener on Instagram shares how you can protect your garden during freezes: 'Free fertilizer and food for my earthworms'

"You can bury them for faster composting."

“You can bury them for faster composting."

Photo Credit: @sofarm_sogood / Instagram

For gardeners, winter is typically not the busiest time. But one Instagram gardener is showing us the perfect thing to do during the cold months — and it doesn't cost a penny.

Loudette Pavon-Catchillar (@sofarm_sogood) collects fallen leaves from around their garden and neighbors' gardens and uses them to help their plants grow.

The scoop

"[Fallen leaves]  are perfect to fertilize your soil," Pavon-Catchillar writes. "Winter is perfect to scatter them in the soil to break down by spring. Free fertilizer and food for my earthworms."

As the leaves break down, they mulch and fertilize the soil. They also add a layer of protection from frost.

"You can bury them for faster composting," Pavon-Catchillar adds.

Since many people like to clear away dead leaves anyway, this solution is a win for you, your garden, the planet, your wallet, and even your neighbors.

How it's helping 

The fact that there is essentially free fertilizer just lying around on the ground waiting for you to use it free of charge is great news for any gardeners who didn't already know this hack. Synthetic fertilizers can be expensive, but thankfully, fallen leaves are not. 

Not only that, but synthetic fertilizers can also cause unintended harm. Though they might help your crops and lawn grow faster, these fertilizers can produce petroleum-based chemical runoff. And those are a big problem when they inevitably end up in rivers, streams, and the ocean.

The chemical runoff can result in algae blooms, which remove oxygen from the water, killing off fish and other wildlife. Or they can just poison the fish directly. The best course of action for gardeners is to go with organic fertilizers, which can be even more expensive than synthetic ones.

Fallen leaves, of course, have none of those issues.

What everyone's saying

The viewers of Pavon-Catchillar's Instagram video were appreciative of the tip.

"Great advice," writes one commenter. "Fallen leaves are full of valuable overwintering insects.  Plus they are a fantastic (free!) mulch."

Another commenter views the entire exercise as a chance to do their favorite activity. "I don't know if there's much I enjoy more than leaf blowing," they write.

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