Leaf mold is a form of compost, which gradually changes into the humus before it breakdown due to slow fungus. There are two main factors need for making a leaf mold: – The presence of adequate moisture and oxygen in the air.
Leaf mold is like a soft pillow, which is naturally found in the forest just above the soil. It is gradually disintegrated. Along with giving nutrients gradually to plants, it also improves soil structure. Leaf mold is not as rich in the value of nutrients. As much as in the completely composted leaves, but it is easy to make and its process is faster.
Leaf mold makes a useful mulch around the garden. It has excellent ability to maintain water. A good quality topsoil can hold around 60 percent of its weight in water, but leaf mold can hold between 300 to 500 percent of its weight in water.
(A) How to make a leaf mold: –
Originally all the leaves are carbonated. Some nitrogen-rich material like grass clippings take a lot of time to break and the decomposition process for leaves takes at least six to twelve months.
1. The first method of making leaf mold, consist of either pilling your leaves into a wood or wire bin in a corner of the yard. The pile or bin should be at least three feet wide and long. Pile up your leaves, and thoroughly dampen the entire pile.
2. Check the level of moisture occasionally during dry period and if necessary water and pour it.
3. The second method of making leaf mold requires a large plastic garbage bag. Fill the bag with leaves and moisten them. Seal the bag and then make some holes or cut slit in the bag for air flow. Then leave the bag for a few days. Check the bags twice a month for moisture. If the leaves are dry, then pour water into it.
After six months in a year, you will end the leaf mold. You can do some things to speed up the process: –
1. Before putting the leaves in your pile or bag, run over them once or twice with your Lawnmower. Smaller pieces will break down faster.
2. Use a shovel or garden fork to change the leaf pile every few weeks. If you are using a plastic bag method, just turn it over or give it a strong shake. In this process the air will be used, which triggers decomposition.
3. If you are using a pile or bin method.
4. Then cover your pile with a plastic torp.
5. This will keep the leaves more consistently moist and warm.
(B) Benefits of Leaf Mold
You must be wondering why you should not just make compost. Why bother making a different pile just for leaves? The answer is that while compost is very amazing for improving soil texture and fertility.
- At the same time, the leaf mold is much better as soil modification.
- It does not provide much nutrition.
- So you will still need to add compost or other organic fertilizers to increase fertility.
- Leaf mold is essentially a soil conditioner.
- It increases the water retention of the soil.
- The addition of leaf mold, water retention in the soil increased by more than 50%.
- Leaf mold also improves soil structure.
- It provides a fantastic habitat for soil life. Which includes earthworm and beneficial bacteria.
(C) How to use Leaf Mold: –
- The left mold is ready to use when it is soft and crumbly.
- Distribute it to your perennials, vegetation plants (shrubs, too if you have a lot of it).
- No thick more than about 3 inches thick. Because the leaf mold retains so much moisture.
- It should be kept several inches back the crown or base of the plant.
- It helps prevent pest and disease problems.
Tip: Leaf mold is slightly acidic, so if you add ground limestone if you plants are sensitive to acidity.
Poonam Singh, M.Sc.(Bio-Chemistry), Content writer, Self Shiksha, Lcoatips, Candidviews, Quikpills and Former Research Director at NEEW