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