There are hundreds of ways to grow a garden, and one extremely popular way overseas is to making leaf mold compost. Leaf mold isn’t purchasable in the United States, rather, you must make it yourself!
What is it?
Leaf Mold is simply decomposed leaves that have the consistency of something between shredded leaves and a goopy humus. The number one selling point as far as why you should take the steps to make your own leaf mold is that it retains water fantastically. In fact, it can hold up to five times it’s own weight in water. Leaf mold reduces evaporation and it also helps to keep the ground, roots and surrounding dirt and foliage cool in the hot months of the year.
Over time, yearly application of leaf mold will improve the quality of your soil, similar to store bought fertilizer, but with infinitely greater results as the mold will continually moisturize and provide nutrients for tree and plant roots.
How Do You Make It?
Before you set out to make your own leaf mold compost, make sure you are mentally prepared to wait and be patient. Be prepared to begin the process, and let two to three years pass before you do anything with your pile of leaves. If you’d care to speed up the process, you can always shred the leaves. Begin by raking up your leaf pile until you have enough leaves to fill about 20-30 trash bags (around a 6 foot by 6 foot pile). Decide how you’d like to proceed: whole leaves or shredded?
If you’d like to take the slower route, go ahead and wet the pile thoroughly, and then cover the whole leaves with a tarp and just let the pile sit, checking it for moisture every few months. If you’d like to speed up the process, shred the leaves finely by running over them with a lawn mower. Form your pile, wet it, cover it, and your leaf mold will form twice as quickly. Either option will require you to stir the leaves each time you check for moisture.
It’s a fairly easy process, and just requires lots of waiting around; once you see your leaf mold is soft and crumbly, mix it in with your soil and distribute it in your garden, being sure to keep it several inches from the base of the plants. Since it does retain so much water, it’ll do a good job of keeping pests away from the roots of your plants as long as there’s a barrier far from the roots.
As easy as it is to make, don’t think twice the next time you need some fertilizer: Opt out of your trip to the hardware store, and simply grab a rake.
Source: Gracious Gardening