Instead of carting off your tree leaves to the landfill, or recycling them in a yard debris bin, why not improve your soil by making leaf mold? Leaf mold is made from decayed tree leaves; it’s easy to make, it’s free and it improves your soil!
How Leaf mold helps:
- Adds trace minerals to the soil
- Reduces rainwater runoff, and evaporation
- Retains moisture. Leaf mold hold 50% of it’s own weight in water
- Loosens compacted soils
- Cools roots and foliage during hot weather
- Improves habitat for soil dwellers, such as earthworms & beneficial bacteria
- As mulch it helps control weeds
- Saves you money by using less fertilizer and less water
Build a 3-4 foot tall wire-fence enclosure, fill it up with leaves, add water, cover with cardboard, mix occasionally if you want to, but it’s not necessary and in two years the leaves break down into a rich brown weed-free mulch.
To speed up the process: Place your wire bin in a semi-shaded area, shred your leaves, add some nitrogen like grass clippings, coffee grounds, or a 1/2 cup of high nitrogen fertilizer, like urea, then cover leaves with a piece of cardboard.
Note: If you don’t own a leaf shredder, then make a pile of leaves and run over them with your lawnmower several times. You should have leaf mold in 9-12 months.
You can also make leaf mold using large plastic bags. Fill large bags half full with leaves, add two cups of coffee grounds, or a ¼ cup urea fertilizer. Wet leaves thoroughly. Tie the top, poke holes in the sides for lots of air flow. Stack bags in warm location, shake occasionally to mix. You could have leaf mold as soon as 2 months.
After leaves have decomposed, incorporate your leaf mold directly into the garden soil, and/or mulch around your plants. You can also mix it with potting soil to use in container gardens.
Note: Do not use these Walnut, Eucalyptus, or Camphor Laurel leaves for leaf mold. They contain growth-inhibitors, and are toxic to other plants.
Oak leaves take longer to break down, so it’s best to shred them.
Composting guide: http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/
Step-by-Step Guide to Making Leaf Mold : http://making-mulch-from-leaves
Article by : Carlotta Lucas