The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Leaves, leaves and more leaves


Photo: Inca beside the leaf sacks

Photo: Inca beside the leaf sacks

Having been tempted by the jute leaf bags (4 for a fiver at Notcutts) they were all full by the end of the afternoon. When I was searching for the greenhouse bubble wrap in the barn I spotted some chicken wire high up in the rafters which will be perfect for making the leaf mould container that Steve H suggested. The drawback of the biodegradable bags is just that – they rot down so have to be replaced each year. Tomorrow I’m going to nip into the market and see if I can score some onion bags from the veg stall.

So hopefully I can report back on the results of several methods of making leaf mould this time next year.

My mum has confirmed that it’s a wonderful soil conditioner. My grandmother had a small wood and used the leaf mould each Spring on her borders. She had an amazing garden.

We have two metal lawn rakes – heaven knows why – which John used to use together for picking up leaves. I’ve been using one to create a pile of leaves to transfer using the leaf collectors into sacks or the wheelbarrow. I’ve struggled a bit with these as the leaves get fastened to the tines. Used on borders the plants were getting scraped and ripped. Generally I was getting rather fed up with the whole leaf collecting experience. To top it all Inca kept on barking at the bulging bags thinking that they were short squat intruders.

Then I remembered Clive’s plastic rake.

We had been laying a hedge for a friend and when it was time to clear up Clive opened his boot and whipped out this plastic rake with wide tines.
“You can’t beat a plastic rake like this for picking up debris from a lawn, Fiona.” He said as he nimbly brushed the bits and bobs into a neat pile.
“There.” He leant on the rake. “If you haven’t got one already, look out for one. It’s a great investment.”
I had no intention of getting one. It was plastic and looked cheap. I preferred good old fashioned looking tools. Oh the foolish arrogance! Back in those days John cleared our borders and lawns, he would have really appreciated a proper leaf rake.

So I drove out to Fordham. The garden centre had one leaf rake left. A hefty Yeoman one when I tested it out on the shop floor – observed closely by a wide eyed young couple – it was far too big and unwieldy for me. Homebase also had just one left, lighter and more compact. Perfect in everyway apart from the price.

Clive, I wish I’d taken your advice all those years ago. It works like a dream. Much quicker and more efficient than a metal lawn rake. Handled gently it’s good for clearing leaves from borders too. And dare I say worth the £14.99 price tag.

Useful links:
Amazon has large selection of plastic leaf rakes with prices starting at a staggering £2.69

Leaf bags:

Harrod Horticulture offers 3 for £5.95 and has a discount if you order 6 bags – £10.90 –
95×65 cm
Crocus has just slashed their prices on multiple ordersof these bags – if you order 10 or more they work out at £1.50 each and they are a bit bigger at 100cmx80cm.
Amazon has pack of 5 for £8.29
Dobies Dobies have a set of 3 for £8.95

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Casalba

    Thumbs up for plastic rakes and Jacqui Lawson’s e-cards!

    Hi Liz

    Great that it worked out well for you!

    We have a giant gravel rake (metal) which I adore too.

  2. Logged on to Amazon and bought the £2.69 plastic rake which arrived within 48 hours. I was a bit suspicious that at that price it might disintegrate at the first outing but it’s fine. Using it on the lawn requires hardly any effort and doesn’t maul plants in the borders. The metal rake is banished to the shed alongside the lovely big wooden job – although that was wonderful when I had gravel to contend with.Thank you so much.

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