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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

Storage

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.

Get Leaves

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.

Bag Them

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!

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Pleasant Permaculture For Your Homestead

Homesteading isn’t just about taming nature. It’s about working with Mother Nature to create the most effective and eco-friendly solutions. That’s why all homesteaders should give permaculture a go, no matter the size of their homestead.

Permaculture basics

“What the heck is permaculture?”

That was the first thing out of my mouth when my husband suggested permaculture for our yard. We live in the city, but we’ve always been fans of urban homesteading hacks. And, as it turns out, permaculture is the answer for smart farming on small plots of land.

Permaculture is an agricultural practice that encourages diversity and harmony in your garden. It’s based on standards for eco-conscious design that also help us humans improve land use and crop yield.

For example, you wouldn’t find neat, single-file rows in permaculture. Instead, permaculture guides gardeners to use the natural symbiotic relationships we find with plants in the wild. This helps humans harvest in the most sustainable way possible while ensuring plant and soil health.

Permaculture and homesteading

That sounds great, but what does it mean to actually practice permaculture?

Zero waste
Nothing goes to waste in permaculture. This takes the form of fertilizing with livestock waste, composting, or using cover crops to provide nutrients into the soil. The goal is to turn any waste back into a resource for your crops.

Perennial planting
It’s a pain to plant seeds every year. Save yourself time and hassle while protecting the quality of your soil by opting for perennial plans. These will grow back year after year, providing a constant source of food with little upkeep.

Natural pest control
Pest control is a must for any homesteader. If you don’t want to spritz your trees with chemicals, use permaculture pairings to naturally ward off unwanted visitors. For example, you can plant understory plants, like beans or herbs, underneath your trees. These companion plantings make the most of your available growing space while keeping the bugs at bay.

Got chickens? Let them cluck around the garden. I guarantee your aphid problems will be a thing of the past.

The bottom line

Humans have been practicing permaculture for thousands of years. Think outside the garden rows and give it a try! You’ll reduce waste, maximize production, and improve your garden’s health.


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