You can apply a layer of shredded leaves (3-6 inches) around the base of trees, shrubs, and flower beds. It’s not a fertilizer and is very poor in nutrients. Below is a step by step guide to get started. It helps speed up the leaf mold process to be ready in about a year. Some studies have shown soils have retained 50% more water after the addition of leaf mold. Leaf mold brings many benefits to your garden soil, such as: Do you want to get started making leaf mold? Luckily, I get out of constant raking during the fall months since my husband owns a mulcher mower. It holds more water by weight than peat moss. The best leaves for leaf mould Making a leaf mould bin The Hearty Garden.  All Rights Reserved. You will know when the leaves are breaking down because they will turn into a black-brown spongy material and will smell like you’re walking in a forest. At once it makes the soil spongier and helps it retain moisture and air, which benefits plant roots. The more the leaf varieties, the better. Is Your Seed Alive? Leaf mold can easily compete with rock dust for being a source of minerals for your … How to use autumn leaves to improve garden soil: Alan Titchmarsh’s top tips. Leaf mold is nothing more than well-composted tree leaves and it’s miraculous for building soil. The energy increases the development of bacteria and fungi in the soil and uses up the nitrogen. In fact, leaf mold doesn't really offer very many nutrients but conditions the soil. It does not supply the plants with nutrients like compost does, rather, it improves soil structure. Over time, annual applications of leaf mold mulch can significantly improve the quality of your soil and increase in beneficial soil life. Kimberly is passionate about all things sustainable gardening and reaping its physical and mental benefits. Alternatively you can just pile up your leaves and use them later when brown materials are scarce. 2) Leaf Mold improves soil fertility which means it provides nutrients to the soil and improves soil structure so it will become nice and loose over time. Leaf Mold – Natures Soil Conditioner. A few wooden posts and … Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. By improving soil structure, it also encourages beneficial bacteria and home to earthworms. It utilizes a cool-generated process using fungus to breakdown the leaves. It could also mean you won’t have to worry about your plants as much when dry spells hit during the hottest parts of summer. Use a shovel or garden fork to turn your leaf pile every few weeks. Kimberly lives in Kansas City, MO, USDA Zone 6. Leaf mold is a soil amendment that can be used in containers, potting soil mixes, seed starting, raised beds and in ground gardens. Though leaves are not high in nitrogen, phosphorus … especially fruit (Gooseberries, Red Currants...) … Leaf mould creators, listen up! Spread a three-inch (7.5 cm.) Leaf mold also has high … In a nutshell, carbon is the highest concentration element. Plus leaves contain twice the mineral content of manure. Leaf mold can hold up to 500 times its own weight in water” … Secondly, the added mixture will improved soil so that it is well-draining. Besides helping retain moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation, leaf mold also absorbs rainwater to reduce runoff, and in hot weather, it helps cool roots and foliage. Hugelkultur: Permaculture’s Ultimate Raised Bed, 3 Ways to Make Your Own Seed Starting Pots. Your email address will not be published. Leaves can be stored in a circular wire (such as chicken wire) bin or piled in an inconspicuous area in your yard. Evergreens such as holly, Aucuba and cherry laurel, are better shredded and added to the compost heap, where they will break down faster than if added to the leafmould pile. Leaf mold greatly improves the structure and water-holding capacity of soil. Sep 21, 2020 | Building Healthy Soil, Gardening, How-To and Tips | 0 comments. Leaf mold adds valuable organic matter to the soil. Leaf mold has several great attributes. Once you’ve collected into a pile, mow over the leaves to shred them. This leads to less watering during the growing season. At once it makes the soil spongier and helps it retain moisture and air, which benefits plant roots. Rake your leaves or collect leaves from a neighbor into a pile. The University took a chemical analysis of 100 leaf samples across New Jersey. Watch your soil reap the benefits! In this form it will absorb rainwater and during the hotter summer months, it will help to keep the root system of your plants cooler. How to Test for Seed Viability, Grow Herbs and Flowers Together In Your Landscape, Adding organic matter to the soil which increases, Feeding the soil food web by increasing biological and worm activity, Keeping your plant’s roots cool by regulating soil temperature moisture and retention, Slowly releasing nutrients and fertilizing your plants and increase yield, Building healthier plants to boost disease resistance, Improves soil structure that helps with drainage issues. Leaf mold is said to have very good water retaining capacities and can be used for potting mixes, or used for enriching soil. Or chop them up for quicker decomposition by mowing over the pile. If you want to … It contains a natural herbicide called juglones and can harm your plants. The table below shows the nutrient concentration extracted from the leaves. Don’t include leaves that show any fungal disease issues. If you are growing plants the same time you apply leaves in your garden bed, it can result in a nitrogen deficiency in the plants. In this #shorts video, I take you through some of the benefits of using leaf mold in the garden. First of all, mold can be beneficial to the gardener. And of course, your garden soil will thank you! Your email address will not be published. If you are using the pile or bin method, cover your pile with a plastic tarp. Log in, The Best Way to Get Rid of Pill Bugs in the Garden. Well draining soil prevents plant roots from sitting in excess water. Leaf mold is great for adding to your garden because it helps the soil retain moisture. Now, who wouldn’t want that? Uses. To enjoy year after year, use multiple bins, piles, and bags for a fresh continuous yearly batch. It helps to loosen heavy soil, hold the soil moisture, confirm proper aeration and drainage system. As a surface mulch leaf mold is effective too, insulating the soil from extreme fluctuations in soil temperature, keeping the surface from compacting so water can easily enter, and helping the soil retain moisture by slowing evaporation. When you directly apply leaves into or on top of your garden soil, the microorganisms will utilize the soil’s nitrogen to break down the leaves. Nonetheless, please don’t throw them out to the curbside and fill valuable landfill space. Leaf mold has a number of great benefits but first let’s mention what it’s not. Leaf mold really is natures compost, it needs no special treatment, makes a great natural mulch, it does not have much in the way of nutrients, however it does have a few hidden benefits. And when used as a soil amendment, it can increase water retention in the soil by 50% or more. Leaf mold is great for retaining moisture in your soil as it holds 500 percent of its own weight in water. It will improve water retention, soil structure and drainage as well as improve the habitat for valuable organisms in the garden like earth worms and beneficial bacteria. Making leaf mold is an easy way to get your children involved in learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. 1. Affiliate Disclosure - Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy, Anti-inflammatory Foods You Can Grow In Your Garden. The majority of the nutrients listed above need a little help. This post may contain affiliate links. Mix it into potting soil for added aeration and water retention. But you can add nutrient rich comfrey leaves to the material when preparing a mix for potting on or plant containers. Leaf mold also improves soil structure and provides a fantastic habitat for soil life, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria. Remove them from patios, decks and paths to stop them becoming slippery as well as reap the benefits of making your own soil improver. As a surface mulch leaf mold is effective too, insulating the soil from … Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner. Leaf mold is used as a soil amendment because it provides nutrients and a moist growing medium for plants. Kimberly has over 25 years in traditional and digital marketing experience with eight years in higher education. A simple wire or mesh container will do the job nicely. That being said, if the leaves have time to break down before you sow your next crop, it offers an excellent soil amendment. You can use leaves from all sorts of deciduous trees to make leaf mould, but those that are thick – for example, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and sycamore – are best shredded first. Water retention – mixed into your garden soil, leaf mold will increase water retention in your garden soil making it easily available for plants. It increases the water retention of soils. This will keep the leaves more consistently moist and warm. Organic matter also provides the perfect habitat for beneficial bacteria and earthworms in your garden. As the leaves continue to decay, carbon levels decrease, and nitrogen levels increase, it eventually brings more nitrogen availability to the plants. It helps to develop clay soil, sandy soil or rocky soil to turn into good quality soil. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Also, stay away from using walnut leaves if you plan to use the leaf mold in your garden. Read our privacy policy. Leaf mold will slow soil moisture evaporation during hot summers and will slow soil cooling in autumn. It will attract a wide range of beneficial microorganisms and insects. Most leaves can be turned into leaf mould, but some take longer to compost than others. When decomposed, leaves provide the perfect habitat and food source for your soil’s microbes and earthworms. This natural soil conditioner improves water-holding capacity, enhances soil structure (and therefore water and air movement within the soil), and provide habitat for the soil’s micro–and macro– If you are using the plastic bag method, just turn it over or give it a firm shake. The number of fallen leaves can become overwhelming to try and figure out what to do with them. The benefits of leaf mould cannot be overstated. In addition to use for seedlings, potting on and plant containers, leaf mold is ideal for mulching around shallow rooted moisture loving plants: e.g. However, you decide to use your leaves, your garden, and the environment will reap the benefits. Leaf mold provides a number of fantastic benefits for your garden: Increases the water holding capacity of the soil. It’s best to shred them using your mower so they’ll break down faster. © 2020. Most leaves are slightly acidic when they fall, with a pH below 6. Benefits of Leaf Mold. The first is that it can hold up to 500 percent of its own weight in water. layer around shrubs, trees, in flower beds and gardens, or any spot that will benefit from a biodegradable covering or amendment. Moreover, its low nutrient content benefits the early development of healthy seedling roots. Benefits of Leaf Mold. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. By definition leaf mold if simply decomposed leaves, with it being a natural substance beneath deciduous trees. Not only is it less labor-intensive than a traditional compost pile, it only calls for one ingredient – fallen leaves. The leaves offer a significant amount of nutrients for the soil, but not all are immediately available after application. Add the mold on the soil’s surface, and the worms and microorganisms will do the rest. Small thin leaves such as birch break down fairly quickly, while large leathery ones such as chestnut benefit from being shredded first. You want your microbes and worms to be happy and healthy. Leaf mold is a powerful soil conditioner. One of the great benefits from using leaf mold compost is that it will hold 500% more of its own weight in water. Don’t want to make leaf mold? Required fields are marked *. So, what does this mean? “It also creates the perfect conditions for the community of beneficial organisms that dwell in your soil” (Galloway, par.1). If you decide to use trash bags, wet down the leaves and poke holes in the bag to allow air circulation. Leaf mold is very versatile and can be used all throughout the garden. Leaves are an abundance in my backyard since trees surround my property. She also worked at a 276-acre horticulture research farm as a Research Technician for five years. 1  Leaf mold is more of a soil amendment. This will introduce air into the process, which speeds decomposition. A soil pH test may … Up to 80% of all nutrients that trees extract from the ground end up in its leaves. On the other hand, traditional compost utilizes a heat-generated process using bacteria to breakdown the organic matter. Leaf mold is considered to be a soil conditioner. However, I take the time to rake enough leaves to place into a pile to create nutrient-rich leaf mold for my containers and garden beds. Using leaf mold as a soil amendment is a common and productive practice. Leaf mold is excellent at retaining moisture in the soil. They are ready when it looks like a black-brown spongy material, crumbly and smell like you’re walking in a forest. What this means is that applying leaf mold to your garden will boost soil life, will provide minerals for your plants, and will improve the structure of your garden’s soil. Tree leaves have high carbon, low nitrogen ratio (60:1), depending on leaf species, compared to an ideal organic material (24:1). Leaf mold brings many benefits to your garden soil, such as: Adding organic matter to the soil which increases water-holding capacity Feeding the soil food web by increasing biological and worm activity Keeping your plant’s roots cool by regulating soil temperature moisture and retention Tree leaves are a nutrient hero. However, as they breakdown, they will eventually release their nutrients, and its best to think of using leaves as a long-term fertility solution. When the leaves decompose, the carbon is released and helps the soil retain water, structure, and fertility. Leaf mold is a soil amendment. Since the leaf mold is a cold process, it won’t kill the fungal spores, and it can re-infect your trees. There are two main factors need for making a leaf mold: – The presence of adequate moisture and oxygen in the air. However, as the leaves … Leaf mould improves soil drainage and aeration and reduces soil compaction. It absorbs rainwater to reduce runoff, and in hot weather, it helps cool roots and foliage. Once the leaves are decomposed, the amendment can be mixed into your garden soil or container. Leaf mold is an organic matter and a soil amendment that is simply a result of composted tree leaves. If that wasn’t enough, leaf mold also feeds earthworms and the beneficial … Before adding leaves to your pile or bag, run over them a couple of times with your lawn mower. Can easily compete with rock dust for being a natural substance beneath trees. Leaves from a biodegradable covering or amendment reduce, reuse, and then when! What it ’ s best to shred them using your mower so they ’ ll break down, some! That the soil, such as birch break down faster ensure that we give you the best on! See if the leaves to shred them using your mower so they ’ ll break down organisms earthworms., USDA Zone 6 things sustainable Gardening and reaping its physical and mental benefits husband owns a mulcher.. 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