I use fallen leaves to mulch my beds. I use them without chopping,
shredding, or composting. (But I also compost leaves.) The leaves
provide a cushion when it rains, keeping the soil from compacting.
In the summer, they keep the soil cool and moist. Evetually, they
form a compost (actually leafmold, which I think is better).
If your soil is really soggy, it might be clay. My soil is mostly
adobe clay, really heavy and sticky when wet. I broadcast a lot of
gypsum on the soil just before the rainy season (the "not so dry"
season here in southern California). It reacts with the clay to
make it somewhat porous, helping excess moisture to drain deeper.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
thank you very much. I think it is clay. It feels that way and it
packs down pretty badly. I am nervous about using leaves, the trees
seems like overgrown weeds next to the flowerbed I am working. Does
There may be no USDA zone 19, but that doesn't mean there is no zone 19:
And I'll bet you make quite an impression of people with your ability to
drop some crude language at the drop of a hat.
There is in Sunset magazine's system, which is at least as well known
to gardeners in southern California. Sunset divides mild-winter areas
according to microclimate, because this can make a big difference in
growing plants sensitive to dry air or even slight frost.
[Briefly, zone 19 is a zone with air drainage (thus less frost than
adjacent zone 18) and little or no marine influence (thus hotter and
less humid than adjacent zone 20). It is an ideal zone for citrus and
other frost-sensitive heat-dependent plantings, more challenging for
drought-sensitive things like evergreen azaleas.]
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