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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

Updated: Mar 9

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


Leaf mold improves the structure and fertility of soil and suppresses weeds and pests. It is a soil conditioner because it helps with water retention and soil structure.


This blog post will discuss everything you need 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 created a valuable soil enhancer called leaf mold.


Leaf mold is decomposed leaves that fungi have broken down. 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, making it an ideal compost ingredient. The leaf mold's high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is due to the slow decomposition process. When leaves decompose independently, 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 ratio beneficial for plants? A high carbon-to-nitrogen ratio benefits 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. The decomposed leaves create tiny channels in the soil that help water seep down to plant roots. This improves the soil's structure, making 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 toxic chemicals to many common pests and weeds. Because of this, 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 soil aeration by creating tiny channels that help water seep into plant roots. The decomposed leaves also create air pockets in the soil, which help roots breathe. Why is soil aeration important? Soil aeration helps improve drainage and prevent compaction.


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


Leaf molds are among the easiest things to make. They're essentially just piles of leaves. Later, I'll show you how to do this, even if you live in an apartment and use plastic sacks or bin bags.


Lead mold is easy to find. You can ask your neighbors for leaf mold or collect it from woodlands or parks.


6. Leaf mold as an alternative to peat moss


Leaf mold is an excellent alternative to peat moss because it's sustainable and easy to find. Plus, it has many benefits for your plants! You can use leaf mold as a mulch or add it to your compost.


How long does it take to make leaf mold?


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


If you want to speed up the process, chop 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, which will also help.


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 pile up your leaves and let nature take its course. The leaves will take a few months 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 should you add leaf mold to your garden?


The best time to add leaf mold to your garden is in the fall. This is because autumn leaves fall 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 decompose faster.

Try to avoid thicker leaves from trees like hemlocks and pines. 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 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 an excellent environment for beneficial insects

-It can be used as mulch to protect your plants

3. Using leaf mold in garden beds


Leaf mold is an excellent addition to 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


Leaf mold can be used as mulch by spreading it around the base of your plants. It can also be used 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 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


When planting, leaf mold can be mixed with your potting soil. This will help to retain moisture and nutrients.


If you have extra leaf mold, 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 decompose slower due to the other organic matter. The kind of composition 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


Making leaf mold in a garbage can or plastic bag is best because it's more efficient.


Is leaf mold acidic?


No, leaf mold is not acidic. 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 decomposition, 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?


Unfortunately, I've checked, and this is a kind of soil amendment that money can't buy!


This product would need to be pasteurized before it could be sold commercially. Doing so would kill the fungi on the mold and defeat the entire purpose.


However, following these tips can create leaf mold in an apartment or small space.


Tips on collecting leaf mold


One of the best places to collect leaf mold is in the woodlands. This is because leaves are abundant and have already been broken down.


To collect leaf mold from woodlands, rake 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, ensure the leaves are not treated with chemicals, as this can harm your plants.



 


Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss our next one, and check out our website for more articles, videos, trends, and free resources. In the meantime, get outside and start collecting leaves—autumn is a great time to make some leaf molds!



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