Check on them every so often to make sure they are moist. Uses. Not only is it less labor-intensive than a traditional compost pile, it only calls for one ingredient – fallen leaves. Kimberly is passionate about all things sustainable gardening and reaping its physical and mental benefits. She holds an Associate’s in Horticulture, a Bachelor’s in Business, and currently earning a Master’s in Business Administration. 4) By using leaves as a mulch, you are helping the environment. Moreover, its low nutrient content benefits the early development of healthy seedling roots. “It also creates the perfect conditions for the community of beneficial organisms that dwell in your soil” (Galloway, par.1). Leaf mould creators, listen up! The University took a chemical analysis of 100 leaf samples across New Jersey. Leaf mold is an organic matter and a soil amendment that is simply a result of composted tree leaves. You will know when the leaves are breaking down because they will turn into a black-brown spongy material and will smell like you’re walking in a forest. That being said, if the leaves have time to break down before you sow your next crop, it offers an excellent soil amendment. 1. Leaf mold is a powerful soil conditioner. Leaf mold is a form of compost, which gradually changes into the humus before it breakdown due to slow fungus. Required fields are marked *. Leaf mold really is natures compost, it needs no special treatment, makes a great natural mulch, it does not have much in the way of nutrients, however it does have a few hidden benefits. If you want to … Use a shovel or garden fork to turn your leaf pile every few weeks. She also worked at a 276-acre horticulture research farm as a Research Technician for five years. It helps to develop clay soil, sandy soil or rocky soil to turn into good quality soil. By well-composted, I mean leaves that have been cold composting for better than a year. Most leaves are slightly acidic when they fall, with a pH below 6. Rake your leaves or collect leaves from a neighbor into a pile. The first is that it can hold up to 500 percent of its own weight in water. The research was to see if the leaves are a beneficial resource for agricultural soil and crops. Leaf mold can hold up to 500 times its own weight in water” … In addition to mowing over the leaves to speed up the process, you can turn the pile or give the plastic bag a firm shake. Add the mold on the soil’s surface, and the worms and microorganisms will do the rest. This will keep the leaves more consistently moist and warm. Your email address will not be published. Leaf Mold – Natures Soil Conditioner. It will improve water retention, soil structure and drainage as well as improve the habitat for valuable organisms in the garden like earth worms and beneficial bacteria. Sep 21, 2020 | Building Healthy Soil, Gardening, How-To and Tips | 0 comments. Leaf mold is nothing more than well-composted tree leaves and it’s miraculous for building soil. It contains a natural herbicide called juglones and can harm your plants. Leaf mold is a a form of compost produced by the slow fungal breakdown of leaves before it finally turns into humus. There are two main factors need for making a leaf mold: – The presence of adequate moisture and oxygen in the air. The majority of the nutrients listed above need a little help. Leaf mold is said to have very good water retaining capacities and can be used for potting mixes, or used for enriching soil. You can use leaves from all sorts of deciduous trees to make leaf mould, but those that are thick – for example, horse chestnut, sweet chestnut and sycamore – are best shredded first. Benefits of Leaf Mold. Despite its ugly appearance and potentially hazardous effects, mold can offer some great benefits. Once the leaves are decomposed, the amendment can be mixed into your garden soil or container. It will attract a wide range of beneficial microorganisms and insects. Mix it into potting soil for added aeration and water retention. Learn how to compost leaves quickly to make a nutrient-rich leaf compost that will benefit your garden. As a surface mulch leaf mold is effective too, insulating the soil from extreme fluctuations in soil temperature, keeping the surface from compacting so water can easily enter, and helping the soil retain moisture by slowing evaporation. Depending on how you prepared the leaves, decomposition can take up to two years. Leaf mold greatly improves the structure and water-holding capacity of soil. Leaf mold is great for adding to your garden because it helps the soil retain moisture. Remember leaf mold retains water at rate of 500% of its own weight so it makes a great alternative to peat moss. It increases the water retention of soils. Leaf mould improves soil drainage and aeration and reduces soil compaction. Leaf mold can easily compete with rock dust for being a source of minerals for your … It’s good stuff! Along with giving nutrients gradually to plants, it … 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. This leads to less watering during the growing season. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Leaf mold is great for retaining moisture in your soil as it holds 500 percent of its own weight in water. Smaller pieces will decompose more quickly. Benefits of Leaf Mold. Over time, annual applications of leaf mold mulch can significantly improve the quality of your soil and increase in beneficial soil life. Leaf mold is more of a soil amendment. The number of fallen leaves can become overwhelming to try and figure out what to do with them. The table below shows the nutrient concentration extracted from the leaves. Leaf mold is like a soft pillow, which is naturally found in the forest just above the soil. © 2020. Leaf mold is a great soil conditioner. How to Test for Seed Viability, Grow Herbs and Flowers Together In Your Landscape, Adding organic matter to the soil which increases, Feeding the soil food web by increasing biological and worm activity, Keeping your plant’s roots cool by regulating soil temperature moisture and retention, Slowly releasing nutrients and fertilizing your plants and increase yield, Building healthier plants to boost disease resistance, Improves soil structure that helps with drainage issues. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Spread a three-inch (7.5 cm.) Though leaves are not high in nitrogen, phosphorus … In this form it will absorb rainwater and during the hotter summer months, it will help to keep the root system of your plants cooler. In this #shorts video, I take you through some of the benefits of using leaf mold in the garden. Leaf mold brings many benefits to your garden soil, such as: Adding organic matter to the soil which increases water-holding capacity Feeding the soil food web by increasing biological and worm activity Keeping your plant’s roots cool by regulating soil temperature moisture and retention It’s not a fertilizer and is very poor in nutrients. In a nutshell, carbon is the highest concentration element. When the leaves decompose, the carbon is released and helps the soil retain water, structure, and fertility. Check out our homemade potting soil mix and substitute leaf mold for compost. Your email address will not be published. Up to 80% of all nutrients that trees extract from the ground end up in its leaves. In fact, leaf mold doesn't really offer very many nutrients but conditions the soil. Given the copious amounts of dry leaves available in the fall you may want to consider making leaf mold. You can find a spot in your yard and wait a year or so for the leaves to break down. Don’t include leaves that show any fungal disease issues. If you decide to use trash bags, wet down the leaves and poke holes in the bag to allow air circulation. Evergreen leaves and conifer needles take far longer to rot and should not be included in great quantities, and then only when chopped. Evergreens such as holly, Aucuba and cherry laurel, are better shredded and added to the compost heap, where they will break down faster than if added to the leafmould pile. The best leaves for leaf mould Making a leaf mould bin Leaf mold also improves soil structure and provides a fantastic habitat for soil life, including earthworms and beneficial bacteria. The energy increases the development of bacteria and fungi in the soil and uses up the nitrogen. According to some university studies, the addition of leaf mold increased water retention in soils by over 50 percent. Leaf mold adds valuable organic matter to the soil. However, as they breakdown, they will eventually release their nutrients, and its best to think of using leaves as a long-term fertility solution. One of the great benefits from using leaf mold compost is that it will hold 500% more of its own weight in water. Leaves are an abundance in my backyard since trees surround my property. To enjoy year after year, use multiple bins, piles, and bags for a fresh continuous yearly batch. The more the leaf varieties, the better. Small thin leaves such as birch break down fairly quickly, while large leathery ones such as chestnut benefit from being shredded first. Alternatively you can just pile up your leaves and use them later when brown materials are scarce. As the leaves continue to decay, carbon levels decrease, and nitrogen levels increase, it eventually brings more nitrogen availability to the plants. Since the leaf mold is a cold process, it won’t kill the fungal spores, and it can re-infect your trees. Instead, create a large pile, wet them down to make leaf mold! This post may contain affiliate links. A soil pH test may … How to use autumn leaves to improve garden soil: Alan Titchmarsh’s top tips. Water retention – mixed into your garden soil, leaf mold will increase water retention in your garden soil making it easily available for plants. The benefits of leaf mould cannot be overstated. Don’t want to make leaf mold? Affiliate Disclosure - Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy, Anti-inflammatory Foods You Can Grow In Your Garden. especially fruit (Gooseberries, Red Currants...) … By improving soil structure, it also encourages beneficial bacteria and home to earthworms. Making leaf mold is less work and more straightforward to manage than composting. Once you’ve collected into a pile, mow over the leaves to shred them. You can apply a layer of shredded leaves (3-6 inches) around the base of trees, shrubs, and flower beds. First of all, mold can be beneficial to the gardener. Once they help rake the leaves into a pile, they can jump and play in the leaves before placing them in their storage bins. Leaf mold has several great attributes. Organic matter also provides the perfect habitat for beneficial bacteria and earthworms in your garden. Your email address will not be published. In addition to use for seedlings, potting on and plant containers, leaf mold is ideal for mulching around shallow rooted moisture loving plants: e.g. Leaf mold has a number of great benefits but first let’s mention what it’s not. At once it makes the soil spongier and helps it retain moisture and air, which benefits plant roots. If leaves are placed in a pile uncut, it can take up to two years to turn into leaf mold. Remove them from patios, decks and paths to stop them becoming slippery as well as reap the benefits of making your own soil improver. It’s best to shred them using your mower so they’ll break down faster. Leaf mold brings many benefits to your garden soil, such as: Do you want to get started making leaf mold? Tree leaves are a nutrient hero. And of course, your garden soil will thank you! Using leaf mold as a soil amendment is a common and productive practice. Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies around the world and studies have shown this past time may improve mental and physical health.  Whether or not you possess gardening personality traits, we want to coach you so you too, can reap this hobbies benefits. Leaf mold is a soil amendment that can be used in containers, potting soil mixes, seed starting, raised beds and in ground gardens. Leaf mold is excellent at retaining moisture in the soil. 3) The layer of leaves protect and feed organisms including earthworms. Kimberly lives in Kansas City, MO, USDA Zone 6. Is Your Seed Alive? So, what does this mean? Before adding leaves to your pile or bag, run over them a couple of times with your lawn mower. However, you decide to use your leaves, your garden, and the environment will reap the benefits. It helps speed up the leaf mold process to be ready in about a year. So we know that leaves have a high level of carbon, which is a carbohydrate that provides energy. It helps to loosen heavy soil, hold the soil moisture, confirm proper aeration and drainage system. Leaf mold provides a number of fantastic benefits for your garden: Increases the water holding capacity of the soil. 1  Now, who wouldn’t want that? Leaves can be stored in a circular wire (such as chicken wire) bin or piled in an inconspicuous area in your yard. This will introduce air into the process, which speeds decomposition. Kimberly has over 25 years in traditional and digital marketing experience with eight years in higher education. Leaf mold adds organic matter and other nutrients when you add it to your garden. You can also place them in trash bags. Watch your soil reap the benefits! 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. A few wooden posts and … Tree leaves have high carbon, low nitrogen ratio (60:1), depending on leaf species, compared to an ideal organic material (24:1). At once it makes the soil spongier and helps it retain moisture and air, which benefits plant roots. Log in, The Best Way to Get Rid of Pill Bugs in the Garden. Leaf mold from deciduous trees will be richer in potassium and phosphorous than nitrogen. Some studies have shown soils have retained 50% more water after the addition of leaf mold. However, as the leaves … Leaf mold also has high … You want your microbes and worms to be happy and healthy. However, I take the time to rake enough leaves to place into a pile to create nutrient-rich leaf mold for my containers and garden beds. It holds more water by weight than peat moss. If you are using the plastic bag method, just turn it over or give it a firm shake. Well draining soil prevents plant roots from sitting in excess water. When decomposed, leaves provide the perfect habitat and food source for your soil’s microbes and earthworms. The Benefits of Leaf Mold. It utilizes a cool-generated process using fungus to breakdown the leaves. Benefits of Leaf Mold Benefits of the leaf decomposing pile is to improve garden soil’s ability of moisture retention. Conifer needles will eventually break down, but may take two to three years to decay. Read our privacy policy. Leaf mold is used as a soil amendment because it provides nutrients and a moist growing medium for plants. Leaf mold is very versatile and can be used all throughout the garden. 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. The Hearty Garden.  All Rights Reserved. When applied to your garden and decompose, they increase the soil’s organic matter and it’s capacity to hold water and improve soil tilth. Mix it into the top layer or use 3-4 inches as a mulch. Leaf Mold is the result of leaves that have fully decomposed and now have a crumbly texture. Two main factors necessary to create leaf mold are sufficient moisture and the presence of oxygen from the air. Or chop them up for quicker decomposition by mowing over the pile. It could also mean you won’t have to worry about your plants as much when dry spells hit during the hottest parts of summer. If that wasn’t enough, leaf mold also feeds earthworms and the beneficial … Also, stay away from using walnut leaves if you plan to use the leaf mold in your garden. The leaves offer a significant amount of nutrients for the soil, but not all are immediately available after application. Nonetheless, please don’t throw them out to the curbside and fill valuable landfill space. But you can add nutrient rich comfrey leaves to the material when preparing a mix for potting on or plant containers. What this means is that applying leaf mold to your garden will boost soil life, will provide minerals for your plants, and will improve the structure of your garden’s soil. They are ready when it looks like a black-brown spongy material, crumbly and smell like you’re walking in a forest. Most leaves can be turned into leaf mould, but some take longer to compost than others. It does not supply the plants with nutrients like compost does, rather, it improves soil structure. Making leaf mold is an easy way to get your children involved in learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Below is a step by step guide to get started. A simple wire or mesh container will do the job nicely. Rutgers University conducted a study about plant nutrients found in municipal leaves. Leaf mold is considered to be a soil conditioner. Leaf mold is a soil amendment. Planting beds conditioned with leaf mold may become slightly acid. When you directly apply leaves into or on top of your garden soil, the microorganisms will utilize the soil’s nitrogen to break down the leaves. It is gradually disintegrated. On the other hand, traditional compost utilizes a heat-generated process using bacteria to breakdown the organic matter. layer around shrubs, trees, in flower beds and gardens, or any spot that will benefit from a biodegradable covering or amendment. As a surface mulch leaf mold is effective too, insulating the soil from … Plus leaves contain twice the mineral content of manure. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. And when used as a soil amendment, it can increase water retention in the soil by 50% or more. Luckily, I get out of constant raking during the fall months since my husband owns a mulcher mower. Secondly, the added mixture will improved soil so that it is well-draining. A soil test will tell you if you need to add nitrogen to your planting beds; this can be done by simply adding well-rotted steer manure. Hugelkultur: Permaculture’s Ultimate Raised Bed, 3 Ways to Make Your Own Seed Starting Pots. Leaf mold will slow soil moisture evaporation during hot summers and will slow soil cooling in autumn. By definition leaf mold if simply decomposed leaves, with it being a natural substance beneath deciduous trees. 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