1. Rake them into a pile and jump in them.
When I was a kid, I used to love jumping into a big pile of leaves that my dad had raked up. He wasn’t too happy about it, but I sure had fun. He was trying to gather leaves for his compost pile. I was just being a kid. It’s true what they say that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Now it’s me who’s raking up the leaves and my 3-year-old daughter who loves jumping in the pile.
2. Start composting.
Mother Nature is practically begging you to start a compost pile. These fallen leaves are the perfect starter kit for the beginning composter. When you and your kids are done having fun in the leaves, rake them onto a tarp and drag them over to your garden. Shred them up with a mower if you want, or just let them be, and by next summer you’ll have lots of nutrient-rich compost called leaf mold. Your plants and soil will thank you for it. You can learn more about composting here.
3. Mulch your garden.
When your garden is done for the season, it’s a good idea to cover up any bare soil. A thick layer of leaves makes a perfect mulch. In spring, when it comes time to plant again, you’ll find that your soil is moist and loose and teeming with happy worms. Happy worms mean healthy soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants. Healthy plants mean tasty vegetables. Enough said.
4. Make colorful leaf rubbings.
We did this at my house yesterday and it was a big hit. It’s such a simple concept that I feel a little silly explaining it, but here goes. Select an interesting leaf, place it between two sheets of paper and lay it on a hard surface, and rub a crayon on the paper over the leaf. The leaf will magically appear on the paper. Pretty cool.
For more information about composting, mulching, and gardening with kids, visit organicgardening.com.
-Eric Hurlock is the online editor at Organic Gardening magazine. He lives and gardens in Chester County, PA, with his wife and 2 daughters. Follow his blog, This Imperfect Plot, at http://organicgardening.com/