Leaf mould is a popular term among gardeners. It is one of the many organic fertile that can be used in your garden. Today we will discuss how to make leaf mould faster? But before that you should know what is leaf mold and why do we need this? So keep reading and explore all your queries.
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What is Leaf Mould?
Leaf mould is easy to use slow-release organic fertilizer. It is best known for its ability as soil conditioners. It is a decayed form of ordinary leaves.
Mold is not an exact compost. It is a common misconception that mold leaf is a type of compost. Actually it is a decayed form of the leaf by the action of fungi. On the other hand, composed is created by the action of bacteria and other organisms.
We use both leaf mold and compost for almost the same purpose. They are good for the soil and act as quality organic fertilizer.
What is leaf Mould good for?
Garden mold or leaf mould is useful in maintaining moisture and nutrient in the soil. It regulates the amount of humus in the topsoil.
Leaf mould is good for revitalizing old potting soil and raised beds. It is a slow-release fertilizer and shares a low nitrogen content. Therefore we can use this for seedlings. It holds enough moisture and nutrients to encourage seed germination.
Leaf mold is used with other compost to provide essential nutrients, moisture, and air to the soil.
What leaves are not good for compost?
Almost all types of leaves including grass is suitable for leaf compost. Remember leaf compost is different from leaf mould.
There are some leaves that can cause some problems with the compost or mold. Leaves like eucalyptus can act as weedicide and stop seed germination. You should avoid leaves that lacks in proper nitrogen and calcium contents. These leaves are of no use for soil nourishment. Other than Eucalyptus, Oak, sweet chestnut, and beech leaves are not good for composting.
What is the best time to prepare a leaf mould?
Autumn is the best time of the year to prepare leaf mould. Although you can prepare leaf mold throughout the year. But the availability of dry fallen leaves is high in Autumn. You can also collect these from public places like parks, gardens, zoos, or any green zones. Maybe you can make some extra money in your interest.
Start your preparation in the late summer to early falls. Collect all the leaves and wait for the spring to get mature leaf mould.
How to make Leaf mould?
You can make leaf mould easily in your garden. There are plenty of ways to choose from. I have shared some of the common methods to prepare leaf mould. Choose the best method that is suitable for you.
Materials Required to make leaf mould
- Leaves: Obviously this the first and most important thing you need. Only care for leaves not suitable for healthy composting.
- Spade or harrow. A tool is required to collect the leaves and di a hold in the ground. A hole is needed only for specific methods.
- Chicken net or wooden box. Again this optional and required only for a specific method.
- Plastic Garbage bags. These bags are needed to collect leaves. Also, it is required for specific leaf mold preparation methods.
- Watering can or pipe. Water is important for making leaf mould. So you need to maintain the amount of moisture. You can use anything or any tool suitable for this purpose.
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Simple heap method for mould preparation
If you have a big garden or you live in the countryside then this is the best method for you. It does not require any specific tool or preparation. It is easy and effective.
- Collect all the dry fallen leaves along with grass cuts in a shady reason.
- Make a heap of leaves at least 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. You can make as many as you want.
- Cover the heap with big leaves or barks or anything heavy to keep them in place.
- Water the leaves completely. Make them wet but not soggy.
- Let the heap throughout the winter to mature.
- You can use this mature leaf mold in next spring. 6-7 month time is required for this purpose.
Prepare leaf mould in a Garden pit
- Dig a hole in the shady corner of the garden. The hole should be at least 3 feet or 36 inches deep and wide.
- Fill the first 10 inches with bigger leafy chunks. You can add fruit peels at this level.
- Fill the next 5 inches with plain soil and press everything gently.
- After this fill 10 inches of leaves and 3 -5-inch soil above each layer.
- Repeat this step until the pit is completely full.
- Finally, water slowly from the top and cover this pit with 10 cm soil.
- Mix everything once in every 15 days. Add more leaves if required.
- To avoid heavy rain, cover the hole with a tarp or plastic sheet.
- This method takes almost 150-180 days to complete. It means you can collect mature leaf mold or compost within 6 months.
Prepare leaf mould in a chicken net
This method is similar to the pit method. The only difference is the position or location being used. Here everything is done above the ground.
- Make a round circular fence using a chicken net. It should be at least 12 inches or 1 foot in diameter. At least 2-feet height is required for this method.
- Use wooden planks or boards for support. The metal net should be fixed in one position. It should be strong and firm enough to hold the weight of leaves being used.
- You can use galvanized pins, clips, staples, or Plugs to hold the net in place.
- Fill this container with leaves up to the top.
- Water the leaves thoroughly.
- cover this setup with a plastic sheet or small tarp. This will reduce the loss of water due to evaporation.
- Turn the mix upside down once in a month. Proper aeration is required for better decomposition.
- Add more leaves whenever necessary.
- This process can take 6-8 months to mature. You can start using this from the last week of the 5th month. Only use complete brown or black fine pieces of leaves.
- This method is portable as you can set up anywhere in your garden.
Prepare leaf mould in Plastic Garbage Bags
This is probably the easiest and effective way to make leaf mold. It is one of the cheapest ways to prepare leaf mold. You can use any plastic garbage bag or carry bags for this purpose. There is no need for any specific tool or setup.
- Take some plastic bags. A big bag is better for this purpose. Use the bags that are suitable for you to manage.
- Completely fill the bags with leaves. Apply little force to compress and make more room.
- Water the leaves slightly. Don’t overwater. Extra water can cause quick rotting. We don’t want to rot with leaf mould.
- Tightly pack all the bags. The bags should be airtight.
- Leave the bags in the semi-shade region for 15 days.
- Make some holes in the bag after 15 days. This will allow proper aeration.
- Water the bags whenever it fell completely dry. Also, Shake the bags once in a month to mix everything.
- Leaf mould will be ready to use in 6 months.
How to make leaf mould faster?
Ok here comes the main question- How to speed up the making of leaf mould? If you have read everything carefully then you must know that preparation of leaf mould is time taking job. It can take anywhere from 6 months to 1 year or even more. All this depends on the following factors.
- Type of leaves. Different types of leaves take different time to decompose. After all, it is a process done by fungi.
- Temperature. Extreme temperature is not good for the growth of any fungi. So too high or too low temperature can slow down the process of leaf mould preparation.
- Moisture. An adequate amount of water is required for this process. High or low moisture can reduce preparation.
- Proper airflow. Sometimes aeration is an important factor for the maturing of leaf mould.
- Nitrogen content. This is something we don’t consider. But trust me low nitrogen can increase the time for the preparation of Leaf mould.
So what can we do now?- We can seep up this process by manipulating these factors. How?
- Take smaller leaves. You can break big leaves into smaller pieces. This will greatly reduce the time of maturing.
- Place the leaves in the spot where partial sunlight is available every day. This will regulate the temperature.
- Maintain the moisture by regular checking for dryness.
- Turn the leaves upside down twice ever month. This the best method to speed up the preparation for leaf mould.
- Also, maintain proper airflow over the leaves for fungal growth.
- The best technique is the use of Nitrogen-rich compounds with leaves. Commercially we use Solution of 20 gm Urea in 5l water for leaves in 1 bag or pit. This will reduce the preparation time to 4 months. You can save 2-3 months for extra leaf mould preparation.
Can you use leave mould for mulching?
Yes, you can use leaf mould for mulching your plants. you can even use the leaf mould for fertilizing small seedlings. It is a slow-release fertilizer and acts as a soil conditioner.
Is Leaf Mould acidic or alkaline?
Initially, leaf mould is slightly acidic in nature. After 2-3 months the acidity reduces and the ph increase to 7. So we can say that mature leaf mould is normal to slightly acidic in nature. Though the use of certain leaves and chemicals can make it alkaline sometimes.
Can I make leaf Mould in a compost bin?
Yes, you can easily make leaf mould in a compost bin. You should be aware of the fact that leaf mould is not compost. Also, It will take more time to prepare than ordinary compost using kitchen waste.
If you are Ok with the timing then you can prepare your own leaf mould in compost bins.
What is your opinion on the preparation of leaf mould? Which is your favorite method? Let me know your views and suggestions. Use the comment box to share your thoughts with us.
I’ll be back with some more interesting topics on gardening. Till then keep reading keep gardening! live green!