Enriching your soil with leaf mould

20121104-163923.jpgAutumn is the time of year that I used to absolutely dread. I used to be in constant battle with the trees that grow outside the front of my house on the grass verge. For weeks there would be times when I couldn’t even see the pathway leading up to my front door for the amount of leaves that were strewn all around the place. I was out there on a regular basis trying to win the battle. There were times that my neighbour and I used to laugh about wishing that we could just shake the trees to remove all of the dead leaves rather than having to be out there every single day clearing up their mess!

But not now. Now I see those leaves as a source of value and I actually look forward to going out there and collecting them up! Leaf mould, glorious leaf mould.

Making leaf mould couldn’t be simpler. All I do is collect up as many leaves as I possibly can in a large black sack, add a little water to the leaves if they appear to be dry, pierce a few holes around the sack for ventilation then tie securely and place somewhere out of sight in my garden.

If you have more space available in your garden, it may be easier to build some sort of cage. Simply place four posts in the ground in a square design and enclose these posts with some sort of chicken wire or open mesh, adding the leaves to this cage as and when you can.

The process of turning the dried leaves into leaf mould is an easy process but is by no means quick. The leaves are broken down into leaf mould by using fungus spores rather than bacteria when making compost. The larger the leaves, the longer they take to rot down into the brown, crumbly material that is what we are looking for. Smaller leaves can take up to 6-12 months to rot down whereas larger leaves can take between 12-18 months. Some people reduce the size of the leaves by passing them through a garden shredder, while others I have heard, simply run over them with their lawnmower and then collect up the shredded leaves. Although leaf mould doesn’t add very many nutrients to your soil, it is a fantastic material for aerating for a soil, especially clay based soils.

Every good gardener needs patience so simply collect them, tie them up and put them in an out of sight place and forget about them until next year where your rubbish will have been turned into treasure!

Happy diggin’


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3 Responses to Enriching your soil with leaf mould

  1. Have collected leaves for the second year. Sat on the edge of the plot are four builders bags full of fallen leaves. Will be using the broken down leaves to fill raised beds.

    • I wish I had the space to use those bags. They make so much sense and are a great way of recycling them. How long do you leave the leaves to rot down before you add them to your raised beds?

      • I’m not too sure! I part filled the beds with leaf mold during the summer. This was leaf mold that was started November December last year; so theoretically it was half cooked. There are many different time scales. Some are a matter of 3-4 months, others say 2 years. What I had found was beautiful black dirt. I have two options. To use to top up the raised beds, with multipurpose compost as it doesn’t have many nutrients in it. Or to dig it into the nutritious but horrible clay.

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