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The Art Of Composting - Make Great Leafmould

A surfeit of leaves?

If you have several large deciduous trees in or near your garden you could well have a considerable leaf fall to collect and deal with each autumn. This is a valuable annual harvest to be utilised not just a mess to be cleared up! Whilst the odd few handfuls of leaves can just be added to your garden composter with other waste not so for large quantities. Tree leaves tend to be tough and rather fibrous for easy conventional composting.

The answer is to make leafmould. It takes a little longer than conventional composting but the beautiful crumbly soil conditioner produced is worth the wait. For modest quantities of leaves punch a few small holes in a black plastic bag or two fill them with leaves tie them off and put them behind the shed for a couple of years. For larger quantities pin some chicken wire to four posts and make a leaf cage. Fill with leaves (pushing down well as you go) and put something on top to stop the leaves blowing away. If you’d rather buy something to do the job, have a look at our Leafmould Composters.

To speed up the process you can chop up the leaves first. The simple way to do this is to spread them on the lawn and run over them with a mower with a box. Then mixing in about 10% fresh grass cuttings and watering well with a nitrogen rich activator (believe it or not urine is ideal!) will make things go faster.

Whilst garden composting harnesses microbes and bacteria and then worms, woodlice and the like to do the Job, Leafmould is made by the leaves being processed by naturally occurring fungi working on the leaves and believe it or not there are many thousands of fungal spores in every few square metres of air from ground level up to about 25 metres or so.