Composting: Leafmould

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Our plot backs on to a railway line which is lined with the most fantastic oak trees. This is great for us because when the trees shed their leaves each year, it becomes a bit of a free for all for those who are looking to produce their own leafmould.

Leafmould is compost made out of decaying leaves and is a great soil conditioner.

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 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 colour of well-rotted leafmould helps to warm up cold soils.
  • Leafmould 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 from being bleached by the elements. That stored nutrient goes straight back into the plants.

Uses for leafmould

Well-rotted leafmould left for more than two years can be used as seed-sowing compost.

You can mix it equally with sharp sand, garden compost and top soil to use as potting compost.

Material that has not rotted down fully, or is less than two years old can be used as a mulch or a soil conditioner.

In the winter, it can be used to cover bare soil and keep weed growth to a minimum.

leafmould

If you plan on making your own multi-purpose, keep you leaves away from the main compost bin.

Have you made leafmould before? If yes, I’d love to know how you got on in the comments below.

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