rakeI shouldn’t be ashamed to admit this. I mean, it could be worse.

Some people hoard “stuff.” Others stockpile food or even guns.

Every fall, my annual hoarding tradition begins when I get the rake out of the garage. The object of my obsession: leaves.

I began collecting leaves for my garden one year when I wanted a substitute for the straw I was using as mulch in my garden. What do I have in abundance that is also free? The answer was in my front yard.

My honey locust is the perfect tree for the job, as the leaves are tiny and make an excellent mulch. When the neighbor’s maple leaves blow into my yard, I mow over them (not an easy task with a reel mower) to chop them into smaller pieces. Both are treasures, in my view.

Leaves make a great garden mulch, but the key is in the storage. (photos/Cindy Hadish)

Leaves make a great garden mulch, but the key is in the storage. (photos/Cindy Hadish)

The key to keeping leaves, though, is in the storage. I need leaves for my garden in the spring or summer, long after autumn has passed.

So after raking the yard each fall – only do this when it’s dry –  I collect the leaves and store them in large plastic bags, in my garage.

This is where the unease sets in. I’m not sure why, but I find myself somewhat sheepishly carrying the bags to the garage, wondering what the neighbors think of this leaf hoarder.

Then I began to question why we even rakes our leaves in the first place. One argument is to keep them out of storm sewers, but I found this article in Fine Gardening that points to a better way to handle this fall tradition, if you don’t feel the need to become a leaf hoarder yourself.