Making leafmould

As Autumn strips our trees naked and carpets Shropshire with fallen leaves you really should see this not as a problem but an opportunity.  Leaves are a wonderful resource with which to make a rich leaf mould. 

So if you want to try something new in the garden this Autumn, why not make your leaves work for you. Leaf mould is not the same as compost.  Compost is produced by bacterial decomposition but leaf mould is produced by fungal decomposition.  It is a slow, cool process and requires minimal oxygen, which means you don’t have to turn it.

Here's how to get started. 

1. Rake up fallen leaves from deciduous trees into manageable piles.  Avoid evergreens as leaves are much tougher and take years to break down fully.  A good idea is to collect leaves using a lawn mower because chopped leaves rot down a bit more quickly, but the end product is just as good.

2. Put leaves into a cage. These are simple to make from a roll of chicken wire. Alternatively a builders bag (with a couple of air holes in it) filled with autumn leaves and with its handles lashed together also works well.

3. Make sure leaves are wet, watering if necessary. This is essential to kick start their decomposition.

That’s it – now walk away – make yourself a cup of tea and put your feet up - it really is that simple.   Come back in a couple of a years and your cage will be full of rich organic humus.  You can utilise this around your garden as a soil improver, a potting mix or a mulch. 

So this autumn don't see collecting fallen leaves as a chore, see it as a gift.  

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James Thompson James Thompson

Waste Prevention Officer, Waste Management, Shropshire Council

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