How To Make Leaf Mold
Leaf mold may sound like a gardener's nightmare - a horrible disease to run rampant through your beautiful garden, rotting everything in its path. In fact, however, it's one of a gardener's best friends!
Leaf mold (sometimes spelled leaf mould) is simply fallen leaves that have been composted into a dark, crumbly soil amendment.
Many homeowners discard their autumn leaves, unaware that leaf mold is one of the best soil amendments available to gardeners. Unlike ordinary compost, leaf mold does not add many nutrients to the soil, but it is an outstanding soil conditioner that improves soil structure and provides food and habitat for earthworms and other beneficial soil life.
Leaf mold also dramatically improves water retention, making it an especially important soil amendment for gardeners dealing with soils that drain too slowly or too quickly. Leaf mold can hold up to 500% its own weight in water, compared to 60% for average quality topsoil and just 20% for subsoil. During wet periods, leaf mold absorbs huge amounts of water, reducing flooding and other sluggish drainage problems associated with heavy clay soils and preventing the water from draining away too quickly from sandy soils. During dry periods, the water is gradually released back to the surrounding soil, reducing the need to water and saving money on water bills!
Fortunately, this amazing stuff is not only free, it is also extremely easy to make!
How to Make Leaf Mold
To make leaf mold, simply collect fallen leaves into a wire bin, plastic bag, or leaf pile. Do not use black walnut leaves to make leaf mold, as they contain a toxin that can kill other plants. If you want to get your leaf mold as quickly as possible, you can run over your leaves with a lawn mower or put them through a leaf shredder, but this is not necessary.
Moisten the leaves and leave them in a relatively cool, shady part of your yard. You may need to check moisture levels occasionally during dry periods and moisten them again if necessary.
Otherwise, making leaf mold requires no other effort at all. Simply leave the leaves alone and in 6 to 12 months you will have a supply of rich, earthy leaf mold to use as mulch or dig into your garden!