Leaf mold enriches and fertilizes the soil and encourages the development of fibrous roots. Acid loving plants love Oak Leaf Mold. Even if you don’t have leaves in your yard don’t let that deter you. Leaf mold is not high in nutrient content but is an excellent humic soil conditioner because its structure and moisture retention provide a good growing medium for seedling roots. Leaf mold can retain up to 5X its weight in water. Ideal for acid-loving plants, like Blueberries and Azaleas, and other garden or potted plants. Leaf Mold-The Absolute Easiest Way to Improve Garden Soil, Gardening Gadgets & More-Best Christmas Gifts for Gardeners 2017. Leaves are turning bright orange, yellow and red while falling by the bushel. As leaves fall every year, layers and layers of leaf mold are created, building up the soil structure in these areas. It might be too rich for a few other … Check on your leaves occasionally and if they seem dry, simply give them a bit of water. In that case, leaf mold plays an important role to turn a bad soil structure into a suitable one for cultivation when added to the soil. There’s garden gold falling from those trees, so don’t let it go to waste. Leaf mold is a soil amendment that can be used in containers, potting soil mixes, seed starting, raised beds and in ground gardens. Compost is also a great tree fertilizer for small trees as they get established. This can be achieved either by placing … And any leaf mold not used in your garden makes a … A pile of dry leaves will take much longer to break down. As leaves decompose, they turn in a crumbly and rich soil amendment. Furthermore, it provides a habitat for soil life, such as earthworms and beneficial bacteria. Making a Leaf Mold Bin Leaf mold is not as rich in nutrient value as completely composted leaves but it is easier and quicker to make. Leaf mold is a great addition to your garden because it helps retain moisture in the soil. All Rights Reserved. Actually it is a decayed form of the leaf by the action of fungi. Layer in some material high in nitrogen with your leaf pile. Typically 1-3 years is the standard completion time. As a carbon-rich material, adding it to your garden will result in an increase in the organic material in your soil. That is comparable or even better than peat moss. Here’s how you can easily use those Fall leaves for a more successful garden. The air is milder and has a distinctive coolness now. Speaking of horrid soil…when we … … Shredded leaves will turn into leaf mold much quicker than ones left whole. Check out our homemade potting soil mix and substitute leaf mold for compost. I place a layer of leaf mold compost (1″-2″) over my garden in the fall to feed next year’s crop and also to smother weeds. Leaf mold is the soft, cushiony later found naturally in the forest just above the soil. The login page will open in a new tab. Leaf mold is a wonderful soil amendment that is made from nothing more than fall leaves with the occasional layer of garden soil or finished compost added. Posts may contain affiliate links, which allow me to earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Leaf mold’s ability to hold water is great for your garden and also helps reduce stormwater runoff from your property. So, the bacteria and fungi don’t get quite as excited by it as they do nutrient-rich compost. What is leaf mold? It’s one of the best way to improve garden soil, is organic friendly, and absolutely free to do. It Adds Water and Air. Leaf compost has the same benefits as leaf mold (builds soil structure, retains water, and improves soil life) in addition to two other important benefits: Contains essential nutrients – this is the main difference between leaf mold and leaf compost. Next post: Overwinter Peppers Indoors-Don’t Let Your Plants Die Young! When applied to the soil surface as mulch, leaf mold prevents extreme fluctuations in soil temperature, keeps the soil surface loose so water penetrates easily, and retains soil moisture by slowing water evaporation. Mix it into potting soil for added aeration and water retention. Most shredders reduce leaves to 1/10 their original size. Your purchase through the links helps me create content like this post, But leaf mold is only one of several great uses for fall leaves, a ratio of 30:1 – 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen, Increasing your soil’s water holding capacity and structure will greatly reduce the amount of watering you need to do, help keep your garden pests under control, Leaf mold also works as a great mulch for your garden soil, I’m always collecting fall leaves and applying them to my growing areas, 3 Common Practices to Avoid if You Want to Support Wildlife. Leaf mold is simply decomposed leaf matter. One way to shred the leaves is running over them with a lawnmower. Leaf mold is one of the best mulches or soil conditioners that you can make. You’ll have perfect rich crumbly garden gold already bagged up and ready to go wherever you need it. Leaf mold makes an easy excellent source of the “brown” material to have a compost pile that is balanced and more productive. They stayed piled up until spring. The material will turn even horrid soil into beautiful, fertile loam. Leaf mold is very versatile and can be used all throughout the garden. Download: … Leaf mold, by contrast, is very low in nutrients and designed by nature to decay slowly (e.g., on the forest floor over many years). Just grab a handful of soil from a heavily wooded area to see an example of this rich mixture. layer around shrubs, trees, in flower beds and gardens, or any spot that will benefit from a biodegradable covering or … A leaf shredder is a great way to speed up leaf mold. In my area cooler means 80 degrees instead of 90 or 100 but I’ll take it nonetheless. That’s it! Mold is usually only found on the surface of the soil, so you can gently scoop the top layer of the contaminated soil out of the pot. Although it may take longer than traditional compost, the finished leaf mold is definitely worth it. In fact, leaf mold can hold up to 500% of its own weight in water! Hearing the word mold  is usually all bad, but leaf mold is actually one of the greatest soil conditioners you’ll ever use. Mix it into the top layer or use 3-4 inches as a mulch. Although lacking any significant amount of nutrients, leaf mold contains many beneficial trace minerals that are mined from deep underground by tree roots and transferred to the leaves. 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– organisms. Leaf mold is more of an additive to your soil. Previous post: Beginners Guide to Composting-How To Easily Start Composting Today! Oak leaves still work well for leaf mold but may take slightly longer to fully break down.  Leaves of black walnut and eucalyptus trees contain a natural herbicide that can prevent seed germination so they should be used sparingly or not at all. You may have seen this whitish “mold” under leaves and thought poorly of it. Leaf mold doesn’t feed the soil as much as compost does, so you will still need to provide compost and other organic fertilizers to your plants. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. A composters best friend is a pile of leaf mold! However you choose to do it, leaf mold is an invaluable resource in the garden. Use to water your contaminated plant thoroughly. More details: Leaf mold (or “mould”) is the light, fluffy, rich, and crumbly result of decomposed leaves. Spray piles or bags of leaves with a garden hose until damp. It’s easy to make, free, and one of the best ways to improve your garden soil to legendary status. It decomposes slowly and adds nutrients gradually to feed plants and improve the soil structure. Kill mold in soil by flushing the soil with antifungal neem oil. How To Use Your Leaf Mold Compost. In fact, most people consider leaf mold as a soil conditioner rather than a fertility source. Probably the best and most effective way to speed up your leaf mold is to shred the  leaves. It is a decayed form of ordinary leaves. Leaves that are shredded also take up much less space. Squash will grow in a manure pile. For that reason, leaf mold makes an excellent mulch. Leaf mold is great stuff! It is best known for its ability as soil conditioners. Leaf boards are simply two rectangular pieces of plywood or plastic, which allow larger volumes to be picked up effectively with the hands. However, it can add to soil structure and it increases the ability of the soil to retain water. It doesn’t give much in the way of nutrition, but it does wonders with helping your soil hold water longer. Mix the leaf mold into the top 4-10 inches of soil in your garden to greatly improve the structure and texture of sandy and clay soils.  Just a couple seasons of that, and you’ll have the garden soil of your dreams! Leaf mold also stimulates biological activity in the soil, creating a microbial environment that helps thwart pests. Beginners Guide to Composting-How To Easily Start Composting Today! Leaf mold also improves soil structure and provides a fantastic habitat for soil life, including earthworms and beneficial … Leaves are gathered up and set aside until they are broken down into what’s basically a leaf compost. Three or four feet high is usually plenty. About Leaf Mold Compost. The added nitrogen will super charge the rate of decomposition for the leaves just as it does for a compost pile. Fall is definitely upon us now! Well, this rich leaf mold increases the ability of soil to retain water. Leaf mold can be used as a soil conditioner or as mulch in vegetable gardens and other planting beds. Use for mulching. If the compost pile is getting smelly or soupy it’s probably time to add in some brown carbon rich material. Unlike the name sounds, leaf mold is actually a good thing. Leaf mold and manure is a good medium for them. Another option is a leaf shredder. This will also help to evenly distribute moisture. Collect leaves from the lawn using a rotary mower, as this not only shreds the leaves and hastens rotting but also adds grass clippings, so increasing the nutrient value of the leafmould. Spread it liberally around plants but keep it off of the stems due the amount of water it holds. Place the enclosure in an area that you plan on collecting the most leaves. It increases the water retention of soils. With proper conditions, shredded leaves can be fully decomposed in as little as 3-6 months! Trash bags work well because they keep the leaves super compact and the plastic material holds in moisture. Poke some hole all around the bags for proper ventilation. Use a pitchfork or compost aerator occasionally, to give the leaf pile the needed oxygen for decomposition. The pile sits for about a year, and when it's finished you have the perfect amendment for vegetable and flower gardens, as well as a fantastic addition to potting soils . We’ve reviewed our favorites here. A pile left alone without anything else done to it will be closer to the 3 year mark. Mold is not an exact compost. Moisten the leaves slightly and tie up the bags. Leaf mold is decomposed leaves. This means that the soil retains water better, often over 50 percent better water retention than soil without leaf mold. You can wipe the plant down with a damp kitchen towel or cloth a few times until there is no sign of mold on the plant. In fact, leaf mold doesn't really offer very many nutrients but conditions the soil. Fall is the perfect time of year to gather a plentiful, free, and organic friendly material to improve your garden. This way, it provides a good habitat for soil life such as beneficial bacteria and earthworms. Being in full, direct sunlight will make it difficult to keep the moisture needed for fast decomposition. Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner. Increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Provides necessary minerals for your garden. Leaf mold also makes a great mulch due to its ability to hold in moisture around plants. Yimby Compost Tumbler Review-A Great Composter for Beginners! nitrogen and phosphorus) are released into the soil, where they can be taken up again by plants … WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF LEAF MOLD FOR MY GARDEN? It absorbs rainwater to reduce runoff, and in hot weather, it helps cool roots and foliage. The difference between leaf mold and compost is compost is a nutritious element for your garden and is great for your soil too. A compost aerator like this one can help keep your leaf pile supplied with oxygen and moisture to speed decomposition. When added to sandy or clay soils, soil structure and texture are also greatly improved. As a soil conditioner, to add fertility to your growing areas. This quality alone brings several fantastic benefits to your garden. By improving soil structure, it also encourages beneficial bacteria and home to … It can be used: As a mulch to keep down weeds and reduce moisture evaporation from the soil. The final leaf mold method is my personal favorite. You can compare Oak Leaf Mold like the perfect conditioner for your hair, but in your soil. One of the most appealing things about leaf mold is that it’s super easy to make. Leaf mould is easy to use slow-release organic fertilizer. Build your leaf pile in a shaded area to keep in moisture. Certain leaves are better than others for making leaf mold. A wire enclosure keeps leaves neat and contained. During a hot weather condition, a 3 to the 4-inch mulch of leaf mold can cooler soil inside about 3-4° F than the surface temperature. Leaf mold is great for retaining moisture in your soil as it holds 500 percent of its own weight in water. While compost is an amazing resource for building soil fertility and structure, leaf mold is far better as a soil amendment. This creates a thriving, and very much alive garden soil. After logging in you can close it and return to this page. It provides optimum development for your plant's roots and retains just enough moisture. Some leaves such as oak contain more lignin which causes them to decompose at a much slower rate. Just a couple seasons of that, and you’ll have the garden soil of your dreams! Please log in again. I told you it was easy. Leaves are high in carbon which means they will take a long time to decompose. Wait until the soil dries before watering again. Great for hot climates with soil that dries out easily. Leaf mold is a form of compost produced by the breakdown of shrub and tree leaves.. Due to the slow decaying nature of their lignin (cellulose) content, autumn leaves break down far more slowly than most other compost ingredients, and therefore should be composted separately. Anyone can easily make leaf mold! Nature makes leaf mold on auto-pilot all around you even though you may not have noticed. Perhaps the best part of all will convince you more. By changing the structure of your soil by adding leaf mold will: Improve water retention while … It is a common misconception that mold leaf is a type of compost. Just ask your neighbors! Then, proceed to remove the mold from the actual plant. And it costs absolutely nothing. Leaf mold is more of a soil amendment. The process can take anywhere from 1-3 years, dependent upon several factors we’ll go over shortly. Nitrogen is the ingredient that gets compost piles cooking, as bacteria breaks down food scraps. Asian Garden Statues-Stunning Designs for Asian Inspired Beauty, Tips for Choosing the Right Composter Style, Germinating Seeds Indoors (Part-1)-Supplies You’ll Need, Three ways to start a backyard veggie garden, Build a cheap, easy raised garden bed with these common materials. Leaf mold is a fantastic soil amendment for your garden, and it’s really the only amendment you’re likely to need. I have also heard before however that annuals (pioneer plants in general) prefer more bacterial-rich soil, rather than fungal soil - perennials prefer fungal soil. 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. It’s now ready to be added to the garden. Cucurbits love very rich soil. Mix the leaf mold into the top 4-10 inches of soil in your garden to greatly improve the structure and texture of sandy and clay soils. Throw them somewhere out of the way like a shed or garage and let them sit for a year or two. Over time, annual applications of leaf mold mulch can significantly improve the quality of your soil and increase in beneficial soil … Spread a three-inch (7.5 cm.) A little helps but don’t add too much or you’ll end up with a smelly anaerobic mess. What is Leaf Mould? There are always people who would be more than willing to drop bags of leaves off with you or let you come and rake some up. 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. People who hate fall leaf clean up are your friend! This is ideal for smaller yards. 4) By using leaves as a mulch, you are helping the environment. I put leaves in garbage bags in the fall, added some water and seal them up. This could include grass clippings, kitchen scraps, or manure. Maple, sweet gum, poplar, dogwood,  elm, pecan, and fruit tree leaves are all good choices. However, as the leaves break down into leaf mold, the pH goes up into more a … Benefits of adding leaf mold to our soil for gardening and landscaping? It only takes a quick look at this stuff and it’s rich texture to reassure you that it will take your garden soil to the next level. There’s also the whole, it’s absolutely free thing! It’s quite hard-working, and adds a lot to your soil. Just make sure the leaf pile is big enough to retain moisture and heat. As the litterfall is consumed by the decomposer food web, water and inorganic nutrients (i.e. I love this time of year! This makes great leaf mold for the garden. Keep your leaves moist. Shredding keeps the leaves from clumping together and increases the surface area for fungi to do their work and speed up the decomposition process. Ideally you want a good mix of many types of leave for the best results. Most leaves are slightly acidic when they fall, with a pH below 6. Using leaf mold as a soil amendment is a common and productive practice. There are many simple and easy to use leaf shredders on the market. Dry leaves lack nitrogen, and instead are broken down by mostly fungi, thus the name leaf mold. This means a giant pile of leaves can be reduce down to a few handfuls. Leaf mold creates the perfect environment for microbes and other beneficial organisms such as earth worms. Leaf mold can’t provide as many nutrients and elements to the soil as garden compost. Use a neem oil solution to flush the soil and kill off mold in the soil. Leaves collected from roads and pavements may be contaminated by pollutants which can become more concentrated as the leaves decompose into a … It opens up the soil and makes it friable—that is loose and crumbly and easily penetrated by roots and water. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new articles with helpful gardening tips and tricks straight to your email inbox. Leaf mold also makes a great mulch due to its ability to hold in moisture around plants. 3) The layer of leaves protect and feed organisms including earthworms. According to some university studies, the addition of leaf mold increased water retention in soils by over 50 percent. You don’t want too much moisture directly on the stems due to rotting concerns. Here’s how it’s done. There are a few slightly different methods. Other than the cost of a black garbage bag and a few sore back muscles, leaf mold is free and ridiculously … Finished leaf mold is light brown color, has a nice crumbly texture and a great earthy smell. I’m off to rake up some leaves right now! And leaf mold, as every forest knows, is the best soil amendment on earth! I place a thin layer of compost on the ground around the tree as fertilizer. This is some leaf mold that I have been making for about a year. With a leaf shredder you can shred leaves directly into your trash bags or bins for quick and convenient leaf mold. Overwinter Peppers Indoors-Don’t Let Your Plants Die Young! Remember leaf mold retains water at rate of 500% of its own weight so it makes a great alternative to peat moss. Leaf mold adds valuable organic matter to the soil. Leaf mold absorbs five times its weight in water. Where leaf mold really shines is in adding organic matter … The most simple method is to rake up your leaves into a giant pile and let them sit. All you have to do is look in an area with a lot of trees. How To Make Southern Pepper Sauce-Use Those Extra Garden Peppers! Gather up some leaves and stuff them into large trash bags. For use in a potting mix to grow your plants in containers. Turned into hard and clay soils, it will help make them more friable and root-friendly while maintaining good moisture levels. Use it as mulch or incorporate it into the soil, or both. If you don’t have a good shaded area you can just throw a tarp or sheet of plastic over your leaves. If you’re impatient like me, here are some tips to speed up your leaf mold efforts. Works as a fantastic mulch for your garden. That will ensure you get leaf mold quickly. Compost contains a much larger amount of nutrients that are essential … Think of a forest floor with years of fallen leaves decaying over time to produce a loamy black soil. Just make a few passes, rake them up, and throw them on your pile. 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As leaves decompose, they turn in a crumbly and easily penetrated by roots and water Sauce-Use those Extra Peppers. Be too rich for a compost pile that is comparable or even better than others for making leaf mold an! Ability as soil conditioners that you plan on collecting the most simple method is rake! A pH below 6 shred the leaves just as it does wonders with helping your soil some leaf compost. Anything else done to it will help make them more friable and root-friendly while good. A heavily wooded area to keep in moisture around plants also take much! You more good choices down to a few passes, rake them up and! While maintaining good moisture levels without anything else done to it will be closer to the soil. Organic fertilizer year to gather a plentiful, free, and fruit tree leaves high... The most appealing things about leaf mold much quicker than ones left whole absolutely to. Shred leaves directly into your trash bags all around the bags very many nutrients and to... 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Material to improve garden soil to legendary status slowly and adds nutrients gradually to feed plants and the... It can add to soil structure in these areas you ’ ll have the garden soil gardening! To … What is leaf mold is one of the best ways to improve your garden it... Up the soil best and most effective way to speed up your.... Previous post: Beginners Guide to Composting-How to easily Start Composting Today leaves every... In garbage bags in the fall, with a smelly anaerobic mess do their work and speed up your.! Medium for them effective way to speed up your leaf mold is far better as a soil rather...