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Turning your leaves into gold

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Oct 13, 2015
Turning your leaves into gold

Before anyone starts to think I am telling you that you can turn your leaves into gold bars and make your fortune I am not unfortunately. What I am talking about this week is a substance that gardeners can make themselves to feed their soil with. Leaf Mould is pure gold in my eyes and one of the best ways to get nutrients into the soil and to give a little extra boost to plants.

With autumn upon us now it is the perfect time to think about making your own leaf mould as there is an abundance of the raw material everywhere you look. Thanks to copper bounty deciduous trees are shedding in our gardens and parks, there is no excuse to not at least try to make your own leaf mould.

There are two ways of making leaf mould in your own garden. The first is to collect the leaves and then pile them up behind shrubs and in hidden parts of the garden to break down naturally. With this option you will find yourself recollecting the leaves every time we get a strong wind. This is why many favour the second option.

The second option involves collecting the leaves and bagging them up into sacks or black bags. This helps to contain the leaves and some say speeds up the process. If the leaves you collect are very dry it worth chucking a jug of water in on top of them to aid the break down. Finally pierce a few holes in the bag and tie it loosely at the top. Once you have all your bags ready you can leave them in corner of the garden for around a year to a year and a half until you have rich dark leaf mould.

Leaf mould is a great way to feed your soilGood quality, well-rotted leaf mould (more than two years old) can be used as seed-sowing compost, or mixed equally with sharp sand, garden compost and good quality soil for use as potting compost. Leaf mould that is less than two years old can be used as mulch, soil improver, autumn top-dressing for lawns, or winter covering for bare soil.

If your leaf mould is slow to break down into leaf mould, try turning it regularly to aerate the leaves and speed up the breakdown process. It is important to make sure that the leaves do not dry out, and you should moisten the pile if necessary in hot, dry weather.

In the off chance you do not have your own leaves to collect in your own garden you can grab some from neighbours or even subtly from public spaces. It is important to be careful where you collect them from in public spaces however and avoid taking them from paths and areas that may have been treated for frost as the weather gets colder in the coming weeks. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at: hello@countrylife.ie

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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