Making Leaf Mould

The large maple in front of our house started turning a few weeks ago, it is always very pretty to watch.  A few weeks into Autumn and it is dropping plenty of leaves for us to gather – and we love a free, replenishable resource.  

I always think this is a nice job for children in the garden, they can’t do too much damage with a rake or broom – so long as they follow hockey rules and keep them low - and can have great fun kicking up the piles they have made.  (And then making the pile again!)

In the past I’ve always put the leaves in plastic bags with holes in to allow water to permeate through, but this year I’ve moved up in the world with a wire mesh cage.  I’ve decided I need to get more serious with the leaf mould.  My intention is not just to use it as a mulch but to let it rot down longer if necessary so that I end up with a very fine and friable compost which I will use to make my own special seed compost.  Leaf mould compost is not as rich as garden compost, it lacks all the nitrogen rich green waste after all, but this is better for seeds.  They contain their own nutrient stores and if you sow in compost that is too rich you run the risk of weak, sappy and over lush growth.  I will mix in some normal compost with the leaf mould and also a little garden soil, I will mine some nicely turned molehills for this purpose!  I’m hoping that within a few years I will eliminate the need to buy any compost of any kind at all.

This Autumn is turning out to be particularly fine, which is great, but does prompt me to remind you that your collected leaves need to be kept moist in order to decompose properly - so in this beautiful weather you will have to water them thoroughly.

 If you are making your own seed compost next year don’t forget to check out the article on the soil sieve.

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