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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

What is leaf mold? | How To Use It for Better Plant Growth| How To Make It at Home

Leaf mold is a type of compost that is made from the decomposition of leaves. It is a rich, dark, crumbly material that is perfect for adding to your garden soil.


Not only does leaf mold improve the structure and fertility of your soil, but it also helps to suppress weeds and pests. Leaf mold is a soil conditioner because it helps with water retention and soil structure.


In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about leaf mold and how to use it in your garden!


What is leaf mold?





When you leave leaves lying around in a pile for a long time, you have just created a valuable soil enhancer called leaf mold.


Leaf mold is basically decomposed leaves that have been broken down by fungi. It's a key ingredient in making rich, healthy compost.


Benefits of leaf mold

  1. Leaf mold has a high carbon to nitrogen ratio

  2. Leaf mold helps soil structure and drainage

  3. Leaf mold suppresses pests and weeds

  4. Leaf Mould improves soil aeration

  5. Leaf mold is easy to make and easy to find

  6. Alternative to peat moss

1. Leaf mold has a high carbon to nitrogen ratio


Leaf mold has a high carbon to nitrogen ratio, which makes it an ideal ingredient for compost. The high carbon to nitrogen ratio in leaf mold is due to the slow decomposition process. When leaves are left to decompose on their own, it takes a long time for the fungi to break them down. This slow decomposition results in a high carbon to nitrogen ratio. Why is a high carbon to nitrogen ration beneficial for plants? A high carbon to nitrogen ratio is beneficial for plants because it helps improve soil structure and drainage, while increasing water retention.


2. Leaf mold helps soil structure and drainage


It also helps improve soil structure and drainage, while increasing water retention. This is because the decomposed leaves create tiny channels in the soil that help water seep down to plant roots. It improves the structure of your soil, which makes it easier for roots to grow and access nutrients.

3. Leaf mold suppresses pests and weeds


Leaf mold suppresses pests and weeds by creating an unfavorable environment for them to grow. The fungi in leaf mold release chemicals that are toxic to many common pests and weeds. Because of its ability to suppress weeds and pests, this means that if you add leaf mold to your garden, you can reduce the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides.

4. Leaf mold improves soil aeration


Leaf mold improves the aeration of soil by creating tiny channels in the soil that help water seep down to plant roots. The decomposed leaves also create air pockets in the soil, which helps roots to breathe. Why is soill aeration important? Soil aeration is important because it helps to improve drainage and prevents compaction.


5. Leaf mold is easy to make and easy to find


Leaf mold is one of the easiest things in the world to make. It's essentially just a pile up of leaves. Later i'll be showing you how you can do this even if you live in an apartment by using plastic sacks or bin bags.


Lead mold is easy to find, you ask your neighbors for leaf mold or collect it from woodland or parks.


6. Leaf mold as an alternative to peat moss


Leaf mold is a great alternative to peat moss because it's sustainable and easy to find. Plus, it has many benefits for your plants! Use leaf mold as an alternative to peat moss by adding it to your compost or using it as a mulch.


How long does it take to make leaf mold?


Leaf mold takes anywhere from six months to two years to form, depending on the type of leaves and the environment.


If you want to speed up the process, you can chop up the leaves before adding them to the pile. This will help them decompose faster. You can also add some water to the pile if it's too dry and this will also help to speed up the process.


How to make leaf mold




Now that we know all the benefits of leaf mold, let's learn how to make it!

In the garden:


If you have a yard, the easiest way to make leaf mold is to just pile up your leaves and let nature take its course. It will take a few months for the leaves to decompose into leaf mold.

In a plastic sack or garbage bag:


You can make leaf mold in a plastic sack or garbage bag by following these steps:


  • Punch holes in the bottom of the sack for drainage

  • Fill the sack with leaves and dampen them with water

  • Tie the top of the sack shut and put it in a shady spot

  • Check on your leaf mold every few weeks and add more water if needed

  • After six months

Which plants like leaf mold?


Leaf mold is beneficial for all plants, but some plants love it more than others. If you have acidic soil, leaf mold can help to neutralize it.


House plants that love leaf mold include:

  • Azaleas

  • Camellias

  • Gardenias

  • Rhododendrons


Edible plants that love leaf mold are:


  • Blueberries

  • Cranberries

  • Figs

  • Strawberries


When to add leaf mold to your garden?


The best time to add leaf mold to your garden is in the fall. This is because the autumn leaves are falling from the trees and you can easily collect them.


Best leaves for leaf mold


The best leaves for leaf mold are deciduous tree leaves. Deciduous trees are trees that lose their leaves in the fall.


Some examples of Deciduous trees include:


  • Oak trees

  • Maple trees

  • Beech trees

  • Birch trees


You'll want to use smaller leaves like those from an oak tree rather than larger leaves like those from a maple tree. This is because smaller leaves will decompose faster.

Try to avoid thicker leaves from trees like hemlocks and pines. This is because they will take much longer to decompose.


Leaf mold uses





Now that we know what leaf mold is and how to make it, let's explore some of the ways you can use it in your garden.

  1. Vegetable garden

  2. Flower Garden

  3. As mulch for plants

  4. In garden beds

  5. In your compost pile

  6. For container gardening

1. Using leaf mold in a vegetable garden


Leaf mold is great for your vegetable kitchen garden because:


  • It retains moisture

  • It adds nutrients to the soil

  • It prevents erosion


2. Using leaf mold in a flower garden


Leaf mold is also great for your flower garden because:


-It provides a nice environment for beneficial insects

-It can be used as mulch to protect your plants

3. Using leaf mold in garden beds


Leaf mold is a good addition in garden beds because:

  • It helps to aerate the soil

  • It drainage in the soil

  • It provides a home for beneficial organisms.


Leaf mold can be used in garden beds by mixing it with your soil.


4. Using leaf mold as a mulch


It's beneficial to use leaf mold as mulch because:

-It helps to retain moisture in the soil

-It prevents weeds from growing

-It keeps the soil cool in the summer


To use leaf mold as a mulch, simply spread it around the base of your plants. You can also use it as a top dressing on your garden beds.


5. Using leaf mold in a regular compost pile


You can use leaf mold in your compost pile by adding it to other organic matter like fruit and vegetable scraps. Leaf mold is a great for compost piles because It helps to aerate the compost. It adds nutrients to the compost and helps to retain moisture.


6. Using leaf mold for container gardening


Leaf mold can be used when planting by mixing it with your potting soil. This will help to retain moisture and nutrients.


If you have extra leaf mold, you can store it in a plastic bag or garbage can for future use.


Can I make leaf mold in a compost bin?


You can make leaf mold in a compost bin, but it will take longer because the leaves will be in contact with other organic matter. This creates a problem because the leaves will decompose slower as a result of the other organic matter. The kind of composition that occurs in a compost bin is bacterial, while leaf mold is a fungi breakdown of leaves. The bacteria will compete with the fungi.


If you would like to make leaf mold in a compost bin you'll need to:


-Add more leaves than other organic matter

-Keep the leaves moist

-Turn the compost bin regularly to aerate the leaves


It's best to make leaf mold in a garbage can or plastic bag because it's more efficient.


Is leaf mold acidic?


No, leaf mold is not acidic. In fact, it's the opposite. Leaf mold is basic or alkaline. This is because of the decomposition process that takes place. The fungi and bacteria release carbon dioxide during the decomposition process, which makes the leaf mold alkaline.

This is beneficial to plants because most plants prefer a slightly alkaline soil. Leaf mold can help to neutralize acidic soils.




Can I buy leaf mold?


No, unfortunately, this is a kind of soil amendment that money can't buy, I've checked!


The reason why is because this product would need to be pasteurized in order to sell it commercially. Doing so will kill the fungi on the mold and defeat the entire purpose.


However, if you follow these tips you can create leaf mold in an apartment or in a small space.


Tips on collecting leaf mold


One of the best places to collect leaf mold is from woodlands. This is because there is an abundance of leaves and they are already broken down.


To collect leaf mold from woodlands, simply rake up the leaves and put them in a garbage can or plastic bag. You can also use a leaf blower to collect the leaves.


If you don't have access to woodlands, you can also collect leaves from your yard.


If you collect fallen leaves from city parks or other neighbors, just make sure that the leaves are not treated with chemicals. As this can be harmful to your plants.



 


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