Raking leaves is a chore, so I like to make sure I get something out of the deal, and that something is leaf mold. Instead of piling my leaves up at the curb like most of my neighbors do, I save my leaves in wire bins, and allow them to break down into a nutrient-rich amendment for my garden. Sure, it takes a few years for the leaves to turn into leaf mold, but I’m willing to wait for a free soil amendment (especially one that I don’t have to lug home).
So What is Leaf Mold, and What Does It Do for Your Garden?
Leaf mold is nothing more than partially decomposed leaves, but it happens to be terrific for your garden. Use it as a mulch or work it into the soil to:
- Increase the soil’s ability to hold water
- Keep roots cool
- Fertilize your plants
- Help with drainage issues
- Increase worm activity
- Make your soil loose and crumbly
How to Make Leaf Mold
If you’d like to experience the wonders of leaf mold for yourself, here’s how it’s made.
1. Collect your leaves. You can rake them up as is, or run them over with the lawn mower first to shred them (this will speed up the decomposition process).
2. Store the leaves in large bins or trash bags. If you use trash bags, wet the leaves down. Then, poke a few holes in the bags before you put them away.
3. Let the leaves decompose until they’re dark and crumbly. This could take up to three years (it just depends on where you live). To hurry the process along, spray the leaves down whenever you notice they’re dry.
4. When your leaf mold is ready, work it into your soil, and enjoy the free boost to the health of your garden.
- Build three bins for your leaf mold, and fill one each year. After three years of doing this, you’ll always have a batch of leaf mold ready to go
- Ask your neighbors for their leaves, or pick up bags of leaves from the curb. The more types of leaves you have in your pile, the better your leaf mold will turn out