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The craziness of leaf mould.

(49 Posts)
shovetheholly Wed 21-Oct-15 08:12:09

Yesterday, I gathered up the sycamore and ash leaves that fall from trees down my road to make leaf mould.

As I was sweeping them up, I realised that I had created something of a scene. People were looking on with concern in their eyes. My neighbour came to check that I was OK.

'Can I have the leaves in your garden?' I said.
'You want.... my leaves?'
'Yes' I said. 'For my garden, to make leaf mould!'
'You want... the LEAVES? THESE leaves??'
'Yep. I'll sweep it for you'.
'Are you OK?'
'Yes, honestly, I'm fine - they're really good for the garden.'
'Oooooo, kaaaaaaaaay?' he says and wandered off, shaking his head.

The lady opposite, walking her dog came and clucked over me for being 'a good citizen' and then tentatively suggested that the council would be along with their road sweeper to 'tidy up' and that I really 'didn't need to do it for everyone'. 'Oh, it's OK, I said, I WANT the leaves'. And she too began to back off gently.

Now I know that all the seasoned gardeners on this thread will know exactly what I was up to, but these exchanges make me think that making leaf mould is not generally something people know about. So I thought I'd make a thread about how to do it, because it's so easy and it gives you bagloads of totally FREE compost!

So here's what you do, for those who've never done it before:

1. Sweep up deciduous leaves - the best ones are the less leathery leaves like ash. (Ignore looks from neighbours)
2. Put them in a bag - a cheap bin bag is fine
3. Prong some holes in it with a fork
4. Let them get really wet, then seal it up
5. Leave for a year. Check occasionally to make sure it's not getting too dry.
6. Open next autumn and enjoy heaps of the richest, darkest, best 'compost' that money can't buy.

It really is that simple. Takes minutes, saves £££.

DoreenLethal Wed 21-Oct-15 08:17:18

Yes me too - the worrying thing is that last autumn I had pleurisy so didn't collect them and people thought it was odd that I wasn't out there with my rake. I put them in a large chicken wire round so they are on display all winter.

I leave it for 18 months, and sieve it and use the sieved material for seed compost, and the stuff left in the sieve goes onto the beds for mulch.

Which, as it breaks down, makes mycelium which of course is invaluable for plants to absorb nutrients and is a natural process in forests.

bowsaw Wed 21-Oct-15 08:22:24

i to just bung in a wire framed compost heap, though i dont clean the streets, far to much plastic rubbish and dog muck contaminating the leaves

bookbook Wed 21-Oct-15 09:08:08

2 years ago my bag was binned by DH while he was tidying behind the shed- his bruises have nearly gone now, he hasn't touched last years, and is helping to fill this years smile

bookbook Wed 21-Oct-15 09:09:13

that was a joke btw smile

shovetheholly Wed 21-Oct-15 09:18:34

book - I think he got off lightly in the circumstances!!! shock I'd go mad! grin

doreen - I think you're right that leaving it longer gives a much better finish to the final thing - my Dad does this and it is like black, soft fluffy stuff that plants just love. I am too impatient, though!!

Sorry about the pleurisy - that's a rotten, rotten illness to have.

echt Wed 21-Oct-15 09:31:57

God, I was the mad lady in my suburb of Melbourne in our autumn this year, raking up neighbours' leaves. I'd drive round the streets, nip out and grab the leaves from nature strips.

There's less variety of deciduous here, tons of liquidambar, so the mix that's best for leaf mold is harder to find.

I have about ten massive bin bags stashed in various bits of the garden, all pronged. I prime mine with some blood and bone, as well as watering them.

This thread has just reminded me to get out and see the bags haven't dried out, as our winter has been The Coldest In 25 Years, though very dry.

shovetheholly Wed 21-Oct-15 12:14:01

high fives echt Mad leaf mould women of the word, UNITE!

I've not heard of priming with blood and bone - makes a bit of sense, though!

echt Thu 22-Oct-15 10:29:39

Here's a link that mentions blood and bone, and though some of the info is Au-specific, much is relevant to the UK.’s-gold

echt Thu 22-Oct-15 10:32:10

Sorry, link defunct.

Callmegeoff Thu 22-Oct-15 11:37:19

This made me chuckle, I made leaf mould for the first time last year but only from the leaves in my own garden. There are plenty in the street so I will do the same! The neighbours will also think I'm mad!

shovetheholly Thu 22-Oct-15 11:40:51

grin Oh please report back on the reactions you get, Geoff!!

gingeroots Sat 24-Oct-15 18:06:00

Sooo - I was thrilled to discover that my black plastic bags of leaf mold ( from a couple of years ago ) are turning into brown soil like stuff .Magic .Especially as I'd previously written them off as too dry ,full of ants etc .

The leaves from the pavement are great but those I'm raking off the lawn come with moss and some grass attached .Will this interfere with the magic ? Produce leaf mold with grass seeds ?

And will it be good for my grass that some of the moss is being removed ,or am I just spreading the moss around more ?

bowsaw Sun 25-Oct-15 11:09:19

its not a problem, as long as the contaminates are biological, they will rot down along with the leaves, its just a very refined compost at the end of the day

removing moss from the lawn is down to personal taste, i dont mind it there, but if you dont like it, then aerate it with the prongs of a fork and brush on some lawn sand, (be weary of using builders sand as it is likely to still have salt in it from dredging and will not do the lawn any favours until the sodium levels decrease)

gingeroots Mon 26-Oct-15 08:31:04

Thanks bowsaw that's really helpful .

I think I need to take it easy on the moss removal .We have a lot - from other areas of the garden I can see that there was once hard standing and it's not covered by much - and it's leaving large brown areas .I don't think grass will easily re grow.
But I bought lawn dressing on a recent expedition so will try that .

Grass seems very hard physical work and somehow not as motivating as beds .

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Mon 26-Oct-15 08:36:52

There are horse chestnut trees near my house, last year I bagged up masses of them and took them up to the allotment (which has no car access so lightness vs conventional compost is a big plus), soaked the contents and stacked them up. They haven't fully rotted yet though which is annoying because it's time to do it again and they take up quite a lot of space.

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Mon 26-Oct-15 08:39:07

Top tip - a snow shovel is the easiest way to pick them up. I put a bin bag inside one of those two handled rubber tubs, shovel them in, stamp them down, repeat.

IrenetheQuaint Mon 26-Oct-15 08:41:39

shovetheholly smile

I make leaf mould but am never sure quite how best to use it. Should I just spread it on top of the veg bed as a mulch, or mix it in with existing compost?

DoreenLethal Mon 26-Oct-15 09:02:19

You can use it as seed compost, mix it in with your own compost when potting up tomatoes/peppers etc or put it on the veg bad as a conditioner.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Mon 26-Oct-15 09:11:46

We have about 20 trees in our garden, so this time of year all I seem to do is rake leaves. We have 6 wire containers I put them in. One tip from Monty on Gardeners World was to rake them when they are damp not dry. It makes it so much easier, I wish I had realised that over the last few years.

I've been worried about quite a bit of moss going with the leaves this year too gingeroots so good to hear from bowsaw its ok.

DoreenLethal Mon 26-Oct-15 09:15:40

I mow them when dry. I am off in about 30 mins to do just that. I rake them onto the grass paths at the lottie then mow mow mow.

shovetheholly Mon 26-Oct-15 12:49:52

I rather like a mossy lawn - it has a real emerald look to it! But I am one of those people who thinks perfect grass is a faff too far in a world where you could be having a gin instead smile

20 trees thickandthin - wow! That's a lot of leafmould!

Irene - I mix mine with compost and use it as a mulch on the woodland part of my back garden. When I say 'woodland part', I mean an area about 3 metres x 3 metres that is shaded by a couple of apple trees, not an actual proper woodland. grin However, as Doreen says, you can use it to make the most brilliant seed compost when it is all rotted down. It's black gold - full of the most amazing, nutritious stuff for your plants. And freeeeeeeeeee!

bookbook Mon 26-Oct-15 16:03:35

I have started raking up my leaves - 2 bin bags so far- I have 9 trees, ( and lots of bushes) but only the acer drummondii and the amelanchier have truly dropped leaves yet - everything else is hanging on for dear life- The horse chestnut is still mostly green !

funnyperson Mon 26-Oct-15 19:31:27

Same, the oak tree hasn't started its mega leaf dump on the garden though the leaves are beginning to fall.
Gives me time to mulch the beds with the existing leaf mould!

ZebedeesJeans Tue 03-Nov-15 19:46:55

I was about to start a thread about leaf mould, but found this one with all the experts here already!

This week I've bagged leaves for the first time ever, dutifully following Joe Swift's instructions in this month's Gardeners' World. I hope to gather a couple more bags yet, looking at all the leaves spread all over the farm, just waiting for me.

I've now realised I have no idea what to use it for once it's done next year. Given how amazing it sounds, what should I put it on? Are there any particular plants which respond really well to it? I don't think I have enough to treat my whole garden, so want to make sure I use it wisely. I am an avid composter already, how does leaf mould differ from my lovely compost?

TIA thanks

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