The New Year marks a new beginning in the gardening calendar and what better way to start than with doing more for less? Some people especially children love them but for many they are often seen at least as a nuisance if not a hazard. They are however a very valuable garden resource, readily and freely available. Fallen leaf used to create leaf mould is perhaps one of the most undervalued natural resources available. Keen gardeners will be very familiar with the many benefits of leaf mould and will use it to great advantage regularly and effectively throughout the garden.
But new or for novice gardeners may not be familiar with leaf mould or its valuable benefits or how to make it? If you haven’t done this before, it is really very easy to get started. Simply collect all the fallen leaves and store them, heaped in a corner or stored in an open wire enclosure or in plastic bags which have been punctured to allow air in. Some patience is required as it can take at least one year or possibly two years before all leaf has rotted down to produce a compost like substance and the leaf mould is now ready for use.
Leaf mould is an excellent compost and soil conditioner, allowing plant roots to develop better and roots to grow deeper. In dry soils it acts like a sponge trapping and storing valuable moisture and in very wet soils it can help to improve drainage. To use the leaf mould, simply spread it around the plants, no need to be too fussy or dig it in, the worms will ensure that it gets down well into the soil.
Some other tips which may help to speed up the process:
- avoid using evergreen leaves as these tend to be difficult and slow to breakdown
- lightly wet the leaf at the start and cover with old carpet
- mix in some grass cuttings
- use an organic chemical accelerator available from the local garden store
- use lawn mower or a garden vac to collect and shred leaf before storing