Summer is well and truly over (if we can call it a summer this year?!) and the leaves are starting to fall as autumn brings the wind, rain and even frost.
Fallen leaves can pose a hazard in the garden; they can be a haven for pests and disease, as well as becoming dangerously slippery once it rains.
Rather than leaving them to rot on the ground, you can collect them and turn them into leaf mould, a type of mulch that is a nutritious, inexpensive material which will provide many health benefits your plants, soil, containers and borders, including:
- Improving soil texture, helping drainage
- Helping to retain moisture
- Protecting roots from extreme temperatures
- Suppressing weeds and keeping containers and borders looking attractive and tidy
The process of making leaf mould is very simple. Start by raking up all the leaves from your garden into a large pile, or, for an easier method, use a leaf blower – your back will thank you for it!
Next, either place the leaves in a compost bin, a container made from chicken wire or bin liners. To help improve the leaf mould, you can also add the grass clippings from your last mow this year, which will add more nutrient to the mixture.
You can leave the mixture to slowly break down, and it can be used next spring or anytime over the next two years. To help it break down quickly, use a shredder to cut the leaves into small pieces. It is important to keep the mixture damp, so add water every now and then. You can also turn the mixture over once every few weeks; this will aerate it and cause it to break down further.
When you’re ready to use it, the leaf mould mix should be placed over the top of cultivated soil. It does not need to be mixed in with the existing soil – having it sit on top will help to protect plant roots from the cold, like a blanket, and stop weeds from creeping out to the surface!