Weeds are a real issue to most gardeners..... well, all gardeners. I've read that 60-80% of a gardener's time is spent weeding...what a waste! Last year in a futile attempt to smother weeds that were taking over several beds during ALL THE RAIN, I used newspapers, feed sacks, whatever I could find to cover the ground when I couldn't keep up by pulling them. It worked to keep the weeds down, but the papers are really hard to keep in place and they're not too attractive, either.
Last year I was able to obtain a large amount of leaves from a neighboring community to utilize in the gardens this year for weed control. Like most of the soils in Cumberland County, the soil on the farm tends to contain more clay than loam. Clay is good, as far as nutrient content and moisture retention, but it's tough for roots to breathe, so as "plant parents" it's a gardener's job to make the soil as perfect as we can for our "plant babies".
Organic matter in soil corrects lots of problems. Adding organic matter will loosen tight soils, help sandy soils hold moisture, and helps with pH balance also. I know, I know, it takes years to boost the "organic content" of a soil as far as a soil test is concerned, but I can tell the difference in a soil that has been mulched just in one season. Wherever leaves are, earthworms are, and wherever earthworms are, the soil becomes wonderfully loose and rich.
Anyway, I'm really excited about using all these bags of leaves on the gardens this season; the blackberries have already gotten their mulch and they smile