At this time of year you can really make use of the debris left as a result of the changing seasons and the drop in temperatures. Leafmould is compost made out of decaying leaves and is a great soil conditioner.
Leafmould is easy to produce – all you have to do is collect the leaves up and store in a plastic bag, wire cage or something that’s going to keep in the moisture.
Once stored – leave it… No pun intended. It takes around one and a half to two years to break down, decompose and eventually be subject to “humification”. Humification is the fancy word given to the process in which green and brown matter is turned into compost.
The benefits of leafmould
- Leafmould can hold the equivalent of 80–90% of its weight in moisture and can increase the soil’s capacity to withstand drought conditions.
- The process that converts raw organic matter into leafmould feeds the soil population of microorganisms and other creatures. This maintains high and healthy levels of soil life. (Soil life consists of all kinds of bacteria, fungus and enzymes which have really long, complicated names, but trust me when I say they’re beneficial for your garden!)
- The dark color of well-rotted leafmould helps to warm up cold soils.
- Leafmould is a substance, which on a microscopic level is made up of insoluble particles, which is dispersed among lots of other materials within the soil. This means that leafmould has a wonderful ability to keep the nutrients in the soil safe from being bleached by the elements. That stored nutrient goes straight back into the plants.
Well-rotted leafmould, which has been left for more than two years can be used as seed-sowing compost. You can also mix it equally with sharp sand, garden compost and a good quality top soil to use as potting compost.
Leftover, composted material that has not quite rotted down fully, or is less than two years old can be used as a mulch or a soil conditioner in the autumn.
In the winter, it can be used to cover bare soil and or used in the winter to cover bare soil and keep weed growth to a minimum.
If you plan on making your own multi-purpose, keep you leaves away from the main compost bin.