feeding the soil

Leaf Mould Compost

Leaf Mould – Compost Builder

Right about now, here on the west coast, it’s a blustery day and the leaves are flying. Now I know that in other less temperate areas, the leaves are long gone. But no matter your locale, fall wouldn’t be the same without leaves to rake, to pile, and to dispose of.

leaf mould compost

Many municipalities will happily collect your bagged leaves and other garden debris, and compost them. Then they’ll sell that rich black leaf mould compost back to you. Instead, why not make good use yourself of all those fallen leaves.

Just leaving them to lie around on the garden isn’t a good idea. They’re quite acidic, and they’ll deplete your garden soil of nitrogen as they slowly decompose. However – once they have decayed into rich compost, they enrich the soil. They add humus – decayed plant matter – making your soil friable and nutrient-rich.

These decayed leaves are called leaf mould, or leaf mold. When leaves are composted properly, the resulting mold can be added as a topping to perennial beds. You can also dig it into your vegetable garden beds, further enriching that soil. It also makes a great mulch, preserving soil moisture in the hotter months.

How to make leaf mould compost

One way to make your own leaf mould compost is to just heap up the leaves in a shady corner. Make sure they’re protected from the wind, or you’ll be raking them up again! Spray them with water, and keep them moist. Every month or so, turn the pile. It will take from 6 to 12 months to have  a usable byproduct.

Now you could speed this up by shredding the leaves. The best way to do this is to rent a leaf shredder. Alternatively, and probably easier, just run the lawn mower over the leaves while they are still all over the lawn. Make sure your grass-catcher is attached, or you will still have a raking job ahead of you.

Now pile up all that shredded leaf (and grass) in a wire or wooden compost bin. For best and fastest results, your pile should be about 3 feet high, and 3 feed wide. Moisten it, check the moisture level occasionally, and turn the pile every 6 weeks or so. As early as next spring you’ll have some rich composted leaf mold to use.

Another easy method is to put all those leaves – shredded – into a large plastic bag. Tie up the top once you’ve moistened the contents. Cut a few slits in the bag for air, and every once in a while, give the bag a good shake, or flip it over to mix the contents up.

When you’re ready to use it, sift the resulting leaf compost through a coarse ½ inch sieve. You can add this to sand and potting soil, for a rich potting mix. You can also spread it thinly on your lawn in early spring, use it for mulch under shrubbery, or dig it in to your garden beds.leaf mould compost

Leaf mould is simple to make, free, and a very effective soil enricher. So collect those leaves from the trees on your property for your own use, and you have all you need to make great garden soil.

 

 

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