Leaf Mold is an organic matter. It is an excellent & absolutely free way to change the composition of your soil and make it healthier. Let’s discuss what exactly it is & how to make leaf mold.
What is Leaf Mold
Leaf Mold is basically partially decomposed leaves. It is dark brown in color, crumbly in texture with pleasant earthy smell.
Benefits of Leaf Mold
Leaf mold has several great characteristics:
- It increases the soil’s ability to retain water.
- It can hold up to 500 times its own weight in water & increases the water retention in soil by 50%.
- Long application of leaf mold as mulch can improve the quality of soil.
- It is highly beneficial for soil life like earthworms & beneficial bacteria
How to make Leaf Mold
There are two popular methods of making leaf mold, which are extremely easy. You have to be patience, as it doesn’t happen overnight. Making leaf mold is considered “Cold Composting”. Leaves are all carbon, which takes longer to break down. Here the decomposition is done by fungi, rather than bacteria as in Hot Composting, which makes the process slower. The decomposition process takes 12 – 18 months.
- Make a pile of leaves in a corner of your garden or collect leaves into a bin.
- Pile or bin should be atleast 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet
- Pile up your leaves up to the top.
- Now water it to make it damp up to the very bottom.
- Keep it moist not wet.
- Just let it sit there.
- Keep on checking the moisture level during warm and dry days & water it if necessary.
- If not much space is available, use large plastic garbage bag.
- Fill the bag with leaves and moisten them.
- Seal the bag.
- Make few holes in the bag for air flow.
- Keep the bag at a shaded place & let it sit.
- Check the bag for moisture & add water it required.
After a year or so, you will be having finished leaf mold.
How to Use Leaf Mold
- Spread it over the soil around plants, this will work as a mulch.
- It is very useful for pots or containers because of it’s water retention ability.
- Use it instead of peat moss, Coco Peat or Bark Humus in gardening mix.
- To hasten the process, shred the leaves before adding them to pile. Smaller pieces will decompose more quickly.
- Turn the leaf pile every few weeks with the help of shovel. If using plastic bag, just turn & shake it. This will maintain the air flow, which in result speed up the process.
- Cover your pile or bin. This will make it moist & warm.
- Leaf mold doesn’t provide much nutrition, so you need to add compost or other fertilizer.