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