Read our privacy policy. Is Your Seed Alive? The University took a chemical analysis of 100 leaf samples across New Jersey. Alternatively you can just pile up your leaves and use them later when brown materials are scarce. Leaf Mold is the result of leaves that have fully decomposed and now have a crumbly texture. Up to 80% of all nutrients that trees extract from the ground end up in its leaves. Spread a three-inch (7.5 cm.) With expertise in horticulture, garden design, and maintenance, she has her sights on coaching others so they too can begin their gardening journey. Leaf mold really is natures compost, it needs no special treatment, makes a great natural mulch, it does not have much in the way of nutrients, however it does have a few hidden benefits. When the leaves decompose, the carbon is released and helps the soil retain water, structure, and fertility. Check out our homemade potting soil mix and substitute leaf mold for compost. The first is that it can hold up to 500 percent of its own weight in water. It’s good stuff! A soil pH test may … As the leaves continue to decay, carbon levels decrease, and nitrogen levels increase, it eventually brings more nitrogen availability to the plants. It’s not a fertilizer and is very poor in nutrients. If leaves are placed in a pile uncut, it can take up to two years to turn into leaf mold. Mix it into potting soil for added aeration and water retention. Most leaves are slightly acidic when they fall, with a pH below 6. Most leaves can be turned into leaf mould, but some take longer to compost than others. The more the leaf varieties, the better. Luckily, I get out of constant raking during the fall months since my husband owns a mulcher mower. It increases the water retention of soils. The Benefits of Leaf Mold. Use it as mulch or incorporate it into the soil, or both. It helps to loosen heavy soil, hold the soil moisture, confirm proper aeration and drainage system. Making leaf mold is an easy way to get your children involved in learning how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. It helps to develop clay soil, sandy soil or rocky soil to turn into good quality soil. Kimberly is passionate about all things sustainable gardening and reaping its physical and mental benefits. Don’t want to make leaf mold? On the other hand, traditional compost utilizes a heat-generated process using bacteria to breakdown the organic matter. especially fruit (Gooseberries, Red Currants...) … Remember leaf mold retains water at rate of 500% of its own weight so it makes a great alternative to peat moss. The Hearty Garden.  All Rights Reserved. It holds more water by weight than peat moss. In this form it will absorb rainwater and during the hotter summer months, it will help to keep the root system of your plants cooler. Secondly, the added mixture will improved soil so that it is well-draining. 3) The layer of leaves protect and feed organisms including earthworms. Leaf mold has a number of great benefits but first let’s mention what it’s not. Using leaf mold as a soil amendment is a common and productive practice. Depending on how you prepared the leaves, decomposition can take up to two years. Smaller pieces will decompose more quickly. Well draining soil prevents plant roots from sitting in excess water. Leaves are an abundance in my backyard since trees surround my property. Leaf mold will slow soil moisture evaporation during hot summers and will slow soil cooling in autumn. Leaf mold is an organic matter and a soil amendment that is simply a result of composted tree leaves. Leaf mold is said to have very good water retaining capacities and can be used for potting mixes, or used for enriching soil. Now, who wouldn’t want that? First of all, mold can be beneficial to the gardener. As a surface mulch leaf mold is effective too, insulating the soil from extreme fluctuations in soil temperature, keeping the surface from compacting so water can easily enter, and helping the soil retain moisture by slowing evaporation. In this #shorts video, I take you through some of the benefits of using leaf mold in the garden. Once they help rake the leaves into a pile, they can jump and play in the leaves before placing them in their storage bins. Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner. Below is a step by step guide to get started. Water retention – mixed into your garden soil, leaf mold will increase water retention in your garden soil making it easily available for plants. And when used as a soil amendment, it can increase water retention in the soil by 50% or more. By definition leaf mold if simply decomposed leaves, with it being a natural substance beneath deciduous trees. When you directly apply leaves into or on top of your garden soil, the microorganisms will utilize the soil’s nitrogen to break down the leaves. Evergreen leaves and conifer needles take far longer to rot and should not be included in great quantities, and then only when chopped. Mix it into the top layer or use 3-4 inches as a mulch. In a nutshell, carbon is the highest concentration element. 4) By using leaves as a mulch, you are helping the environment. Leaf mold is used as a soil amendment because it provides nutrients and a moist growing medium for plants. One of the great benefits from using leaf mold compost is that it will hold 500% more of its own weight in water. 1. 1  This post may contain affiliate links. This will keep the leaves more consistently moist and warm. If you are using the pile or bin method, cover your pile with a plastic tarp. Leaf mold is considered to be a soil conditioner. Watch your soil reap the benefits! If that wasn’t enough, leaf mold also feeds earthworms and the beneficial … Leaf mold also has high … Required fields are marked *. It will attract a wide range of beneficial microorganisms and insects. A simple wire or mesh container will do the job nicely. Leaf mould improves soil drainage and aeration and reduces soil compaction. Evergreens such as holly, Aucuba and cherry laurel, are better shredded and added to the compost heap, where they will break down faster than if added to the leafmould pile. Making leaf mold is less work and more straightforward to manage than composting. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Leaf mold provides a number of fantastic benefits for your garden: Increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Leaf mold is excellent at retaining moisture in the soil. Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies around the world and studies have shown this past time may improve mental and physical health.  Whether or not you possess gardening personality traits, we want to coach you so you too, can reap this hobbies benefits. Once you’ve collected into a pile, mow over the leaves to shred them. Two main factors necessary to create leaf mold are sufficient moisture and the presence of oxygen from the air. Leaf mold is very versatile and can be used all throughout the garden. There are two main factors need for making a leaf mold: – The presence of adequate moisture and oxygen in the air. You will know when the leaves are breaking down because they will turn into a black-brown spongy material and will smell like you’re walking in a forest. Nonetheless, please don’t throw them out to the curbside and fill valuable landfill space. In addition to mowing over the leaves to speed up the process, you can turn the pile or give the plastic bag a firm shake. 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