29/09/2014

How to make leaf mould

Making leaf mould is very simple and offers a range of benefits to you and your garden. The hardest part is collecting the leaves in the first place.

Leaf mould in essence is decomposed leaves. These decomposed leaves break down into a thick black crumbly substance known as leaf mould. People often confuse leaf mould with leaf mulch. While both these substances come from leaves, however leaf mulch is a layer of shredded leaves that is placed on top of the soil and which later breaks down into leaf mould. This is where the confusion often comes from. 

While leaf mould doesn’t add many nutrients into your soil, it is a great natural conditioner. Leaf mould aids the soil structure and helps the soil retain moisture. For the best results you should add a layer of leaf mould to the soil, turn/till it, and then add compost to provide the soil with additional moisture and nutrients. 

How to make leaf mould in 5 simple steps; 

1. Prepare the storage area to make leaf mould. Depending on the amount of leaf mould you want to make it will depend on the number of leaves and space you need. For owners of small gardens you may prefer to make leaf mould in black bin liners with holes in and store them in a suitable location. For larger gardens you can either pile your leaves in a hidden, shaded corner of your garden, or for those that prefer a tidier looking garden you can make a leaf bin. 

To make a leaf mould bin simply place four, three foot posts into the ground creating a square or rectangle. Staple chicken wire around the posts removing any sharp edges or points. It is important that you are able to reach into the bin to enable you to turn the leaves each month and remove the leaf mould when required.

2. Collect leaves. It goes without saying; leaf mould requires leaves, however collecting them can be awkward and labour intensive. There are a couple of simple ways to collect them. You can use an ordinary garden rake to collect leaves into a pile. A plastic or rubber rake is best; however this method is the most labour intensive. The quickest and easiest way is to use a leaf blower / vacuum. These are readily available in most good retailers and at the Official Flymo WebShop. Some leaf blowers like those in the Flymo range also have a vacuum function that enables the user to collect the leaves into a collection bag allowing them to empty the leaves directly into the leaf mould bin. 

When collecting leaves when it is windy remember to blow the leaves in the same direction that the wind is blowing. Otherwise you will spend hours re-collecting leaves you have already collected.

Not all leaves are suitable to make leaf mould. Before making leaf mould you need to make sure that any leaves you collect are disease free. If you use disease ridden leaves when making leaf mould you risk infecting any plants, vegetables etc. when you add the leaf mould to the soil. You also need to ensure that you do not use leaves containing rubbish. The rubbish will not break down and may contain contaminants that you don’t want to add into your garden. 

3. Shred them. Whilst not a requirement, shredding your leaves before adding them to your leaf bin will speed up the decomposition process, enabling you to use your leaf mould more quickly. While it is not necessarily essential that you shred your leaves, unshredded leaves tend to become compacted in the leaf bin preventing oxygen and moisture from circulating, preventing decomposition. Dry and damp leaves shred the best. The smaller the leaves are shredded, the faster the leaves will break down. To shred your leaves you can use a garden shredder or mow over them a couple of times with your rotary lawnmower. 

A quick and easy alternative is a garden leaf blower/ vacuum. Many of these, like the Flymo leaf blower range shred leaves as they collect, saving you the job of shredding the leaves once collected. The size that you shred the leaves to is dependent on how quickly you want to use them as leaf mould.

4. Add them to the leaf bin. The last step in making leaf mulch is to add them to your leaf bin. If you are using bin liners to create leaf mulch when the bag is nearly full, lightly sprinkle with water and tie the bag together and store in a shaded area of the garden. If using a larger leaf bin, loosely pack the leaves into the leaf bin allowing the air to circulate between the leaves and moisten slightly. 

5. Leave them. Leave your leaves to slowly break down over the next 6-12 months, gently turning every month to allow the air to circulate. If you are using the bag method, then shaking the bag is just as good. Ensure that the leaves are moist, not wet and by next autumn the leaves should have turned into lovely leaf mould and ready to add to your garden.

Where to buy a leaf blower 

A range leaf blower deals can be found on the Official Flymo WebShop. The Flymo GardenVac and Flymo Scirocco not only allow users to blow leaves neatly into piles quickly and easily, their suction functions allow users to collect and shreds leaves at the same time, helping make collecting and preparing leaves to make leaf mould quick and easy. 

You can find a range of Flymo leaf blower deals online at the Official Flymo Webshop and at most good retail stores. 

Electric leaf blowers like those in the Flymo range have a number other benefits too. They are quieter than petrol leaf blowers making them ideal for use in residential areas, and are typically lighter allowing users to use the leaf blowers / vacuums for longer periods of time than their petrol equivalents.

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