The strong winds that we faced yesterday stripped a lot of leaves of the trees and blew them into the garden. Of course, as it’s autumn, there’s a lot of fallen leaves anyway but today there’s at least twice as many. This means a bit of extra work clearing them up but it also means that we can make lots of lovely leaf mould!
Leaf mould is the perfect soil conditioner, filling it with fungi, micronutrients and other organic matter which aids in plant growth. Worms love it too taking the leaves and moving them from the top of the soil to lower levels, further improving soil structure and moisture retention. So if you have a glut of leaves it’s the perfect excuse to use them all up.
So here’s how you make it. First of all you need to contain all the leaves. You can use black bin bags with holes in the bottom but a much better technique, if you have the space, is to create a chicken wire cage. Knock four posts into the ground in a square shape, preferable in an isolated bit of your garden and definitely over open ground, i.e. not on patio or decking. Wrap the chicken wire around the posts and fasten with tacks. Any leaves that you have in your garden can go straight into this cage and left to rot down. The best leaves to use are non-waxy or evergreen leaves, for example holly or conifer, as these don’t readily break down.
Once your leaf mould is complete, which can take anywhere from 9 to 18 months, there are several ways which you can use it. You can apply it around your plants as a mulch which will help with moisture retention or dig it in to a new bed or border. You can even add it to your compost heap to make it even better.