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With autumn getting into full swing, more leaves are falling from the trees each day. This is good news for family walks – who doesn’t love stomping through a big pile of crispy leaves? It’s also good news for gardeners, as fallen autumn leaves give us the perfect opportunity to make leaf mould.
What is leaf mould good for?
Leaf mould is basically rotted-down leaves. It’s low in nutrients, but it makes a brilliant mulch which you can spread on your soil to improve its condition. Worms adore it, so they drag it down into the earth where it improves soil structure and water retention. You can also mix it with potting compost for a nutrient-rich start for plants.
How do you make leaf mould?
Leaf mould is so simple to make – here’s how to do it.
If you have enough room, make a square-ish bay for your leaves out of *chicken wire with wooden posts at the corners – you just need to contain them so they don’t blow away. Leave the top open, and the rain will do the job of keeping things damp for you. This is important because the leaves need moisture in order to decompose.
If you’re wondering whether rotting leaves smell awful, they don’t, because its fungal rather than bacterial activity that’s going on here.
If space is tight, you can make leaf mould perfectly well in a black bin bag. Just fill the bag with leaves, add some water, and punch a few holes in the bag to allow excess water to drain away. Tie the top of the bag, shove it out of sight somewhere, and next autumn you’ll have a lovely soil enricher for minimum effort.
I said it was easy didn’t I! You might like to check out this video from Gardener’s World which shows you each stage in action.
The best leaves for making leaf mould
Thinner leaves such as ash, hawthorn and hornbeam rot down the quickest. You can use thicker leaves such as oak, but bear in mind they will take longer to decompose. Don’t be tempted to add evergreen leaves to your pile, they take forever!
Making leaf mould is a great garden job for kids to help with; creating a big pile of leaves is lots of fun, as is stomping it down to make room for more. A quick, fun garden activity for autumn with the added bonus of free mulch next year – perfect!