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Make Your Own Leafmould

Find out how to make your own leafmould to improve your soil

Make Your Own Leafmould

grow your own | general

Turn fallen autumn leaves into leafmould

If more than a few fallen autumn leaves are added to a compost heap they will not rot down into the compost, and will slow down the composting process. This is because composting is the result of the action of bacteria, but dead autumn leaves degrade with the action of fungus. It is therefore necessary to recycle large quantities of fallen leaves separately from the compost.

Making Leafmould

Leafmould is the name given to rotted down autumn leaves, and it is used as a general soil improver, as a mulch, or in potting mixes. Leafmould can be made from any fallen brown leaves in the autumn, and it could not be simpler to make.

Rake up a pile of leaves for leafmould

In the autumn collect fallen leaves using a rake or leaf blower. If the leaves are dry spray them with a hosepipe to ensure that all the leaves are moist to promote rotting. Pack the leaves into sturdy black bin bags, tie the top, and stab a few holes into the bags using a garden fork. Leave the bags out of the way for at least one year and your leafmould is ready to be used.

Using Leafmould

Leafmould is ready when the leaves crumble when squeezed in your hand. Depending on the variety of leaves used, this can take anywhere from one to two years. For example, for oak and alder the rotting process is quick (one year), for beech and horse chestnut slower (two years), and for leaves from evergreen plants and conifers very slow (at least three years).

Young leafmould is an excellent mulch helping keep weeds at bay and to reduce the need to water thirsty plants. A layer a couple of inches deep is all that is needed to retain water and restrict weeds. It can also be dug into growing beds to improve the soil by adding organic content.

Well rotted leafmould

After a further year the leafmould will be very well rotted, and there will be no visible traces of leaves left in the bag(s) since the leafmould will have crumbled down to very small pieces. This can be used in all the ways described above, but can also be mixed with garden compost to make (peat free) potting compost, with garden compost and sharp sand to make seed compost. Fine leafmould can also be used as a lawn dressing during the main growing season. Simply spike the lawn all over with a garden fork, throw sieved leafmould over the lawn, and brush it in.

If you want to speed up the rotting process, either use a garden shredder to shred the leaves before bagging them. Alternatively, throw the leaves over the lawn and mow over them. The shredded leaves will then be collected in the lawn mower ready for easy bagging.

Article Published: 15:28, 4th Jun 2010

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