Well then, they’re here again. Leaves. Everywhere!…
If you’re anything like me then you can’t go out for a walk without hearing Bob Ross on the wind, oohing and aaahing over all the pretty little leaves and colorful shadows. Just me? Hmmm…
Leaves are quite remarkable things. Aside from all that wonderful color and voodoo magic they perform with the sun, they can go on to be one one your very best mates when it comes to improving the health and vitality of your garden. What i’m talking about, of course, is good ol’ LEAF MOLD. That wonderfully sweet, deep brown humic matter will work it’s own magic for you with only a little guidance and patience on your part. And why would you want to use LEAF MOLD in your garden? Put simply…. because IT ROCKS!!
Let me explain:
LEAF MOLD is one of the best and most readily available NATURAL soil conditioners you can use, it has remarkable moisture holding capacity, and is wonderfully friable (meaning it’s lovely and crumbly.) These attributes alone make it highly desirable as an amendment, especially in some of the heavy, compacted and polluted urban soils we have here in the Commonwealth. That, coupled with climate change and drought, makes Leaf Mold all the more important to integrate into our gardens.
“So, how do I make Leaf Mold?” you might ask. The answer is simpler then you think:
Leaves… (Rake ’em up)
Moisture… (Make sure they’re damp- keep that fungus growing, baby!)
Containment… (Put ’em in anything from perforated garbage bags to custom-built cages or boxes designed specifically for this purpose)
Time… (Leave ’em in place anywhere from 6 months to 2 years)
Ok, I agree, 2 years does seem like a long time to wait in order to start improving the quality of your soil. You can speed up the decomposition by SHREDDING your moist leaves (a lawn mover will do just fine). Shredding will aid the decomposition process by increasing the moist leaves’ surface area and decreasing clumping (which, if not tended to, will slow down the fungal process). If you don’t have a mower, panic not! (Saving gas gets a thumbs up from us) You can shake, turn, punch or wrestle your leaf-filled bags, or fork over the containers of leaves from time to time to keep them separated and active, making sure to keep an eye on the moisture levels. Might I suggest that you take a glass of your favorite tipple along with you and use a garden fork for these purposes, unless, of course, you are into bonsai and have a knack for self-torture.
So there you have it: In 6 months to 2 years: (Super-Duper) Local, Organic, Low Cost, Leaf Mold Mulch! Why pay to pollute the environment by having these beautiful leaves carted off in Old Guzzly Guts in the fall and then $pend again to have compost and mulch carted back in come spring? I don’t get it either…
Whether you’re a DIYer or would love to employ the services of myself and the beautiful Jen O’Donnell… (who would of course be more than happy to not only help gather up those little buggers and build you a Leaf Mold holding pen/bin, but generally help you design and build a healthy and sustainable garden that will have all the men/women running your way/make you the talk of the neighborhood/get your neighbor jealous/provide nectar for local bee hives/put a smile on the face of even the most die hard cynic/grow you the weirdest looking vegetable ever/grow the hair back on your bald spot/make you taller/shorter/thinner/fatter/happier/help you achieve enlightenment. *Ok, we’re still working on this last one. ..We can, however, guarantee levitation ,which will look cool at any party.)
… you don’t know the meaning of ‘misty-eyed’ until you’ve let a handful of the “Old Brown Gold” flow through your fingers, dreaming, seeing and then loving what it has done for your garden beds and the earth.