Leaf mold is a substance that’s made from decomposing leaves. As leaves rot, they break down into leaf mold, which is a grainy, crumbly, black matter. Although this process takes up a lot of time, preferably one or two years, it’s not much of a problem since leaf mold doesn’t have to be applied regularly.
How Does It Work?
Although leaf mold isn’t considered to be very rich in the nutrients your soil needs (because it’s primarily composed of dead leaves) what it does is acts as a conditioner for your soil, greatly improving its texture. Additionally, it gives your soil better structure and enhances its ability to retain more water, which is helpful in the event that a heavy rain spell occurs.
Making Leaf Mold
Start by setting up space where you’ll store all the decaying leaves. Since we’re all urban city farmers here, it’s probable that you don’t have much space, so using a large garbage bag (the black ones) will do. Just remember to add holes for air circulation. Then you have to keep the bag out of sight because it’s not the most appealing thing you want your guests to see.
Next, you’ll need to collect the leaves, which sounds easy, but is pretty difficult if you think about how much time will go into the task. To make it easier, you can purchase a garden vacuum or leaf blower. Garden vacuums always have bags attached in which they collect fallen leaves and other debris. You can empty out this bag and separate the leaves from other materials before using them for the leaf mold. Remember not to just use any leaves that come your way, but only ones that are healthy and don’t show any sign of disease. Using leaf mold made from disease-ridden leaves puts your crops at the risk of being affected by the disease too.
Shred ‘em up
If you live in an area that often gets heavy rain during the monsoon season, then leaf mold is a staple for you because it prevents soil from getting waterlogged. In this case, you’ll need your leaves to decay quickly. An easy way to do that is to shred them before adding them to your leaf mold bag. If you have a garden shredder, you can effortlessly shred your leaves into thin pieces. Otherwise, simply use a rotary mower on the leaves a few times. It isn’t essential that you shred your leaves, but it does speed up the process because otherwise, large leaves can keep air from circulating and enhancing the process of decomposition.
Add your shredded leaves to the large garbage bag and spray a little water when the leaves reach the top. Tie the bag from the top and leave it in a nicely shaded part of your garden.
Leave and Shake
Now you have to keep your leaves away for a period of 1 to 2 years for them to decompose. Remember to turn them over every month or so to keep them from getting compacted while increasing air circulation. Keep the leaves moist and you’ll have your leaf mold ready to use in your garden soon. Happy Farming!